Italian Cuisine and America
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Italian Cuisine, such as the chicken parmesan I am attempting to cook, has been apart of my family traditions for many years and Italian cuisine has been apart of American Culture for centuries. According to Charles Perry of the Los Angeles Times, Americans were first made aware of Italian food in the 19th century, when only the rich ate pasta because it was seen as a European and sophisticated dish. But at the end of the century thousands of Italian immigrants started pouring into America and as a result hundreds of Italian markets stated opening everywhere. Consequently, Americans began to see pasta and other Italian foods as a cheap substitute for meat. Pasta is what ultimately brought Italian cuisine into American culture because it was cheap, simple, and fast. Immigrants were able to buy enough pasta to fill the entire family without spending a fortune and it only took about 20 to 30 minutes to make.
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Later in the 19th century tomatoes became available, all year long, in cans for about 10 cents each, which allowed their pasta to become more Italian. However, like with many other cuisines we enjoy in America, they decided to make many Italian dishes their own, for example they began adding flour, water and ketchup to tomato sauce. Then as time went on they just decided to invent new Italian dishes of their own, like chili mac and omelets filled up with bits of pasta. Many of these dishes were created in order to feed large families with a small amount of money. Italian cuisine was perfect for lower class family’s because many of the foods were made of starch, which fills people up faster and longer.
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In the early 1900’s many other foods began to become popular. For example ravioli started to become popular, but as usual, they put their own twist on the dish by filling it with spinach or some sort of meat. Also “cannelons”, connoli type pastries filled with all sorts of different foods such as meat loaf and strawberries, became very popular during that time.
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Even though the Italian food we eat here in America is not authentic Italian cuisine, it still is delicious and is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people. In the end the cuisine was introduced to us by Italian immigrants and was adopted by lower class Americans who made it affordable and available to a mass population. The cuisine was originally made popular because it was inexpensive and filling, but it quickly became a staple in many American households like mine. Because of these innovative Americans I am going to attempt some amazing “Americanized” chicken parmesan.