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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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“Sunday Dinner? You Had to Be There!”

“Sunday Dinner? You Had to Be There!”

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

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

Simone Cinotto

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252037733.003.0002

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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