Two associate professors of Italian studies in York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Roberta Iannacito-Provenzano and Gabriele Scardellato, have co-edited a new book titled Italian Foodways Worldwide: The Dispersal of Italian Cuisine(s) (Soleil Publishing, 2020).
“The important observation that ‘we are what we eat’ has profound implications for cultural identity not only for countries of immigration, where diverse foodways come into contact, but also for those from where the exported foodways originate,” said Iannacito-Provenzano.
In this light, the volume brings together scholarly papers on a variety of topics related to the culture and representation of Italian cuisine, ranging from menus and feasts in Toronto from the Fascist period, Italian foodways in Britain during the Second World War, Italian cookbooks, the Catelli Pasta Company, menus from Italian restaurants in Tokyo, Italian food branding in North America, the Mediterranean diet, foodways and film, food, immigration and ethnic identity in Ontario and Argentina, the first Italian restaurant in Calgary and the history of the famous Vesuvio restaurant in Toronto.
“In their global dispersal, both before and after unification, Italians may have carried with them only a memory of a cuisine but, wherever they settled, enclaves or Little Italies were established and efforts to recreate the memory began,” explained Scardellato. “That re-creation, however, always happened in the presence of other cultures and other foodstuffs. At the same time, the culture(s) of origin were far from static with regard to so-called ‘traditional’ cuisine.”
Iannacito-Provenzano and Scardellato acknowledged the support of York University’s Mariano A. Elia Chair in Italian-Canadian Studies in making this project possible.