Italian-American Foodways: Migration and Politics of Taste

Nov 11, 2019 139

Friday November 22 2019, from 17:30 to 19:00 EST. The Henderson Room (Third floor) @ Michigan League - University of Michigan. Join us for a Presentation and Meet & Greet with Prof. Simone Cinotto - Free and Open to the Public. Register online. Organized in collaboration with the Consulate of Italy in Detroit, the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago.

Food has been a vital factor in the experience of Italian immigrants to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century as well as the American-born generations of their children and grandchildren. Food provided them with a widely shared means of cultural identification, social cohesion, and economic opportunities. Italian American family and community life were centered on food rituals such as Italian Sunday Dinner.

After having been seen with suspect at the beginning of the century, Italian restaurants and American popular culture popularized immigrant cuisine among Americans of non-Italian descent, making food an inescapable feature of the public identity of Italian Americans. Even much of the transnational relationships with the diasporic home across the Atlantic was actually based on food, as food has always represented a most relevant share of Italian exports to the United States.

Since the 1970s, a new, smaller, group of Italian immigrants—chefs, cookbook writers, TV show hosts—has introduced a new template of Italian cuisine in America, insisting on the notion of authenticity, and becoming an integral and dynamic part of the American “food revolution.” Arguably nothing more and better than food represents Italian America, its history, and the continuous two-way flows of people, goods, and ideas between Italy and the United States in the twentieth century and beyond.

SOURCE: Dante Alighieri Michigan

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