This book explores the centrality of food in the Italian American community of East Harlem in New York City between the 1920s and 1940s. It examines why the food of immigrants and their children has continued to serve as a powerful means of identification across different generations of Italian Americans; why, and how, Italian food and foodways have come to define Italian America; and what the persistence of Italian foodways tells us about the character and meaning of the Italian experience in America and, more generally, about the role of consumption in the production of race, ethnicity, and nation. The book is organized in two parts: the first focuses on the role of food in the Italian American family and community in East Harlem in the 1920s and the 1930s, while the second analyzes the Italian American food trade and market in New York, along with their national and transnational ramifications. This introduction provides an overview of the historical literature on consumption, class, and ethnicity and the book's structure.
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