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The Italian American TableFood, Family, and Community in New York City$
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Simone Cinotto

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037733

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037733.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use (for details see www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 26 September 2018

“Sunday Dinner? You Had to Be There!”

“Sunday Dinner? You Had to Be There!”

Making Food, Family, and Nation in Italian Harlem, 1930–1940

(p.47) 2 “Sunday Dinner? You Had to Be There!”
The Italian American Table

Simone Cinotto

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines how, during the period 1930–1940, Italian immigrants in East Harlem articulated new food-based strategies aimed at controlling the mobility of immigrant children by delaying their embrace of middle-class values. It considers how the family table became a place for negotiating generational conflicts between immigrant parents and their American-born children by expounding on the so-called generational contract, whereby children were granted much greater autonomy in public in exchange for showing allegiance to the family through regular participation in the gatherings centered on ritual food consumption that brought families together. The chapter asks why immigrants insisted on such family food rituals in exchange for relinquishing control of their children's public life, and why younger Italian Americans agreed. It shows that the Italian American family's ritual Sunday dinner was not only about eating but also about the discursive articulation of nation and ethnic identity in the diasporic private sphere.

Keywords:   generational conflicts, Italian immigrants, immigrant children, immigrant parents, food consumption, food rituals, Italian Americans, Italian American family, nation, ethnic identity

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