Simone Cinotto’s The Italian American Table : Food, Family, and Community in New York City argues that the Italian American food system in New York city is a model for understanding the different ways U.S. migrants and other racial groups used their own domesticities, commodities, and marketplaces to establish and reinvent their identities. She explores this notion through representations through The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos. In all of these representations of Italian Americans, the food was symbolically used to represent their feelings and to demonstrate their collective identity as Italian Americans. Cinotto also uses the memory of Mario Puzo life in the Italian Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan from the 1920s-1930s to demonstrate three reasons Italian cuisine defines the identities of Italian Americans.  The first reason is “the power of food to create and support family and community in a world of cultural and material stress, second, the importance of the food trade in the Italian immigrant economy; and third, the symbolic value of food in the self-representations that helped Italians understand who they were and whom they aspired to be.” By this she means that all of these reasons all come together to indicate that “through food and eating, Italian American ethnicity was as much a social and physical construction as a cultural, narrative, and symbolic one.” She also talks about the process of the uniform ‘Italian American cuisine’ came to be and how that uniformity affects the Italian American identity in America. Cinotto means that there was “no such thing as a national cuisine in Italy, but rather a patchwork of local food habits that reflected divides between the diets of the well-off and the working poor, and those in the cities and in the countryside.” The concept of ‘Italian cuisine’ was different to every Italian.  The diversity of the ‘Italian’ ethnicity and culture is best seen and represented in the food.  After reading this journal, I understand how food has such an impact to the culture and identity of immigrants migrating to America. 

Categories: History 297

1 Comment

Moon · October 23, 2017 at 1:13 pm


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