The Italian American Table

For History 297, we had to read excerpts from The Italian American Table, by Simone Cinotto. The introduction starts with an analysis of the thematic importance of food to Italian-Americans in shows like The Sopranos and The Godfather.  In each case, food is depicted as being something inherently tied to Italian culture. This is something echoed by Italian-American authors, directors and actors in practically every book and movie on Italian-Americans.  Cinotto sought to see why it is that  the culinary arts are seen as being a part of Italian American culture. Cinotto found quotes from people like Mario Puzo, the famed author of The Godfather, describing the importance of food during the Great Depression. It was during the depression that food became intertwined with Italian American culture. After the many diasporas experienced by the Italian Americans and the attempts to be seen as being white, cooking became the best way for the Italian Americans to differentiate themselves from the rest of the country. From this, Cinotto creates the main idea of her book, that the way food is done for each racial or migrant group in America impacts the way their culture is seen.  In this, Cinotto uses the traditions of food culture and interviews, rather than sources like government documents. This shows how historians have been seeking out newer ways of analyzing history.

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