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|Title:||Food and Ethnic Identity in Italian-American Narrative||Authors:||Luconi, Stefano||Keywords:||Italian-American food; Italian-American traditions; Value of food in Italian-American culture; Food and ethnic identity||Issue Date:||2004||Publisher:||EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste||Source:||Stefano Luconi, “Food and Ethnic Identity in Italian-American Narrative", in: Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali, XI (2004), pp. 205-216||Series/Report no.:||Prospero XI||Abstract:||
The Italian American community in the United States has frequently been represented through the stereotypes of gluttony and Mafia connections. The host society has portrayed Italian immigrants as macaroni-eating gangsters, and the only truth in that assumption is that the food had a huge importance among the community, because it was a way of measuring a person’s social standing.
Both Louise DeSalvo and Edvige Giunta have argued that “food-writing and life-writing in Italian American culture are interconnected, for to examine our relationship to food is to examine ourselves”. Actually, sharing meals has been a way of strengthening family and community ties in “Little Italies”, as well as a form of remembering the native land. Food is the fabric of traditions: it has rituals that must be respected, while the rites’ disruption is frequently used as an allegory to signal that the community values themselves have been violated.
The overview of Italian-American narratives in this essay highlights how Italian Americans’ self-perception through foodways is not stable, and how it actually undergoes a number of transformations that include attachment to the local roots of the native or ancestral place of origin, the elaboration of a consciousness based on one’s national descent, the rejection of national heritage in the pursuit of assimilation into the American society, and the rediscovery of one’s Italian extraction.
|Appears in Collections:||2004 / 11 Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali|
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