Wednesday 21 September 2022

Spaghetti Italienne

(...) Italians arived in an America that was at best ambiguous about their food habits. On the one hand, in the 1890s the eating habits of wealthier Americans were being influenced by the latest trends in England, whose fancy hotels and country-house kitchens were again being invaded by "Contintental" chefs, usually bearing recipes from French haute cuisine. Upper-class American hotels, restaurants, and clubs shifted away from the overwhelmingly "American" and English dishes and meals that had previously characterized their menus. By the turn of the century "Spaghetti Italienne" had joined the extensive choice of American and French items. It was usually served as one of the first courses, along with or instead of chicken livers, sweetbreas, or other relatively light items. But the Italian invasion of elite dining rooms at around this time appears to have halte with spaghetti.

(...) the fact that the character of Italian immigration into America had changed markedly in the previous twenty years must also have discouraged thoughts of popularizing Italian food among the upper crust. Before 1880 the relatively few Italian immigrants to America had often been skille people from the north of Italy who were relatively acceptable by native-born White Anglo-Saxon Protestant standards. By 1901, however, as the deluge of unskilled and poverty-stricken immigrants from the Mezzogiorno struck America's cities, Italy no longer merely connoted Rennaissance palaces and happy gondoliers on the native-born mind. More immediate were images of swarthy immigrants in teeming tenements: sewer diggers, railroad navvies, crime, violence, and the dreaded cutthroats of the "Black Hand." Spaghetti could stay on the menu, but only as "Italienne", the French spelling bringing some reassurance that the original Italian dish had been civilized and purified in French hands. (Levenstein, 1985:77)

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- Levenstein, H. (1985). The American Response to Italian Food, 1880-1930. Food and Foodways, 75-90.
- photograph via


  1. Replies
    1. I found this so interesting. Fascinating, the role of food... Thank you so much for still dropping by, Kenneth!

    2. Still here, too! ūüėė