Foodways in Italian-American Narrative

Carol Bonomo Jennngs and Christine Palamidessi Moore

in American Woman, Italian Style

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780823231751
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241286 | DOI:
Foodways in Italian-American Narrative

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)


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Food is not only fundamental to our survival but also integrally connected with social function and identity. Food and eating are “essential to self-identity and are instrumental in the definition of family, class, and ethnicity.” For Italians and Italian Americans, food is the most common example of what Herbert J. Gans calls “symbolic ethnicity” and very often serves as the mediating force between personal and social relationships in and outside the home. The rituals and routines of meal preparation and consumption become impediments for the young girl in Helen Barolini's short story “Greener Grass.” Food turns the family meal into a sacramental ritual that can unite even as it sacrifices those who will not or cannot partake in the communion, leaving food to a next generation who can easily digest it if certain recognitions of the past remain.

Keywords: food; symbolic ethnicity; Italian Americans; Greener Grass; Helen Barolini; family meal

Chapter.  3571 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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