Gourmet food

The history of Italian food in the USA


Italian food is very popular worldwide, but specially in the USA. At present, there are many organizations that protect the authenticity of Italian food, but not everybody knows when Italian food first arrived in the United States.

Italian cuisine arrived in the United States with the first Italian immigrants and it started to be considered special in the late nineteenth century. The wave of Italian immigrants continued passing through Ellis Island, traveling further West. Throughout all that travel, Italians held on tight to their cultural identity through their cooking.

Later on, soldiers returned from Italy after World War II with the desire for foods from the grateful nation. Entrepreneurial immigrants opened restaurants that provided those soldiers with the foods they had developed a craving for and introduced the soldiers’ families to spaghetti and meatballs, sausage and peppers, ravioli, lasagna and pizza.

Throughout the 50s and 60s, Italian food became a part of the American mainstream diet which included delicatessen such as salami, mortadella, peppers, mozzarella and provolone. During the 70s and 80s, many Italian-inspired regional dishes became popular in America, for example Eggplant Parmigiana or the famous Fettuccine all’ Alfredo.

Italian food has influenced the way Americans eat and has been assimilated into America’s culture like no other food. In supermarkets the shelves are filled with pasta and pasta sauces, and frozen food compartments offer numerous types of pizzas and a variety of Italian-inspired meals. Obviously, most of these food products are not authentic Italian food, but are more like Italian-American foods.

Authentic Italian food products are available at specialty food stores in the United States – most notably in Italian food markets in cities with large populations of Italian Americans.

Some Italian food producers say that Italy’s high standards, the importance of freshness and the cost and time of exporting have limited the demand for authentic Italian food products in the American market. However, the Internet has narrowed the gap, as more Italian products become available online.

Finally, the increase of attention on Italian food is making it more familiar to Americans and now inspires people to cook at home with authentic Italian food products. Consequently, more and more Italian food producers are working to bring authentic Italian food products to United Stated of America.



Source: A Brief History of Italian Food in America

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