Italian-American Table

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Italian-American Table

The Italian American Table: Food, Family, and Community in New York City by Simone Cinotto discusses the role food had in the development of Italian American’s identities. Cinotto shows how food was commonly used to represent Italian Americans collective identity as well as a way to assert their cultural and political claims in American society. He asserts that food was the central role in defining Italian American identities through three reasons. These reasons are the power of food creates and supports family and community in a world of cultural and material stress, importance of food trade in the Italian immigrant community, and the symbolic value of food in self-identifying Italian Americans. He goes on to discuss how scholarships do not recognize Italian American food as part of transnational American culture because historians focused narrowly on the effects of assimilation within immigrant culture and not the role of ethnic foods as well. Italian immigrants who worked within the food industry used older recipes as well as a mix of American culture in their meals to acknowledge the significance of “American abundance”. He argues that the food trade such as opening of restaurants created an entrepreneurial ethnic middle class for Italian Americans. Furthermore, Cinotto defines that Italian American food system in New York City is a model for seeing how migrants and racial groups have used their own commodities to create their identities. He also concludes that food was the “center of consumer choices that articulated the languages of race, gender and class”.

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