Many scholars have written about the particularly intimate connection between food and family

1400 WordsApr 23, 20196 Pages
Many scholars have written about the particularly intimate connection between food and family prevalent in Italian-American culture. Herbert Gans interprets this to be a legacy of the traditional Southern Italian peasant culture that the immigrant generation successfully passed down to the younger generations in America. Thus, the connection is implied to be a “transplanted” cultural trait. However, when viewed in light of the social changes in America, this bond was inevitably affected by the Italians’ experiences in America. Italian-American food culture was a tradition shaped by changes outside and inside the family. An examination of the Italian-American family of the interwar years (c.1919-1940) demonstrates that the critical role…show more content…
Therefore, the character of the period is defined by the experiences of this single generational grouping. A common set of opportunities and constraints frames these experiences given that each generation tends to come of age within a short historical time period. The first portion of this essay, the will focus on the Italian-American family of the interwar years. Tracing the development of such a family demonstrates how intergenerational negotiation was necessary for food to transcend its status as a marker of social inferiority and point of family conflict and become a unifying family force. As the large influx of Italian immigrants came to an end in the 1920s, the immigrants’ bonds with their home country became weaker and the second-generation became numerically predominant. This change, as Alba points out, shifted the focus of communal concern: The immigrants’ anxiety about finding a niche, however temporary, in American society was succeeded by that of passing on a way of life to the new generation, one whose members were being raised in an environment vastly different from that which lived on in their parents’ memories.” Accordingly, major generational conflicts erupted within the Italian-American community during the earlier portion of interwar years. The children of the immigrant generation were socialized under “genuinely dual cultural pressures.” They were raised in the home of their
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