9780674001909

We Are What We Eat: Ethnic Food and the Making of Americans

Gabaccia, Donna R.

ISBN 10: 0674001907 / 0-674-00190-7
ISBN 13: 9780674001909
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication Date: 2000
Binding: Softcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:

Ghulam Bombaywala sells bagels in Houston. Demetrios dishes up pizza in Connecticut. The Wangs serve tacos in Los Angeles. How ethnicity has influenced American eating habits--and thus, the make-up and direction of the American cultural mainstream--is the story told in We Are What We Eat. It is a complex tale of ethnic mingling and borrowing, of entrepreneurship and connoisseurship, of food as a social and political symbol and weapon--and a thoroughly entertaining history of our culinary tradition of multiculturalism.

The story of successive generations of Americans experimenting with their new neighbors' foods highlights the marketplace as an important arena for defining and expressing ethnic identities and relationships. We Are What We Eat follows the fortunes of dozens of enterprising immigrant cooks and grocers, street hawkers and restaurateurs who have cultivated and changed the tastes of native-born Americans from the seventeenth century to the present. It also tells of the mass corporate production of foods like spaghetti, bagels, corn chips, and salsa, obliterating their ethnic identities. The book draws a surprisingly peaceful picture of American ethnic relations, in which "Americanized" foods like Spaghetti-Os happily coexist with painstakingly pure ethnic dishes and creative hybrids.

Donna Gabaccia invites us to consider: If we are what we eat, who are we? Americans' multi-ethnic eating is a constant reminder of how widespread, and mutually enjoyable, ethnic interaction has sometimes been in the United States. Amid our wrangling over immigration and tribal differences, it reveals that on a basic level, in the way we sustain life and seek pleasure, we are all multicultural.


Review:
Donna R. Gabaccia, a professor of American history, explores how ethnicity has influenced the eating habits of Americans and determines that America is "not a multi-ethnic nation, but a nation of multi-ethnics." Can a country that eats bagel dogs and Thai chicken pizza still find ways to preserve the "original" foods of its immigrants? Is this even a worthwhile task, if the immigrants themselves are eager to assimilate into the larger culture, and the food industry is just as eager to co-opt (and, Gabaccia notes, water down) their native cuisine? Through case studies and anecdotal accounts, Gabaccia takes a look at the state of American cuisine and the curious culinary situation that allows SpaghettiOs to remain a venerable lunchtime standard at the same time that many restaurants strive to produce an "authentic" Milanese risotto.

Review

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We Are What We Eat Ethnic Food and the Making of Americans (ISBN: 9780674001909)
Gabaccia, Donna R.
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Book Description: HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 234 x 155 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. How ethnicity has influenced American eating habits - and thus, the make-up and direction of the American cultural mainstream - is the story told in this text. It is a complex tale of ethnic mingling and borrowing, entrepreneurship and connoisseurship, of food as a social and political symbol and weapon - and a history of American culinary tradition and multiculturalism. The book follows the fortunes of dozens of enterprising immigrant cooks and grocers, street hawkers and restauranteurs who have cultivated and changed the tastes of native-born Americans from the 17th century to the late-20th century. It looks at the mass coporate production of ethnic food obliterating their identities, and at the surprsingly peaceful relations between Americanized foods and pure ethnic dishes. The author invites the reader to consider: if we are what we eat, who are we? Amid wrangling over immigration and tribal differences, it argues that on a basic level, in the way life is sustained and pleasure is sought, we are all multi-cultural. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780674001909

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Book Description: HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 232 x 155 mm. Brand New Book. How ethnicity has influenced American eating habits - and thus, the make-up and direction of the American cultural mainstream - is the story told in this text. It is a complex tale of ethnic mingling and borrowing, entrepreneurship and connoisseurship, of food as a social and political symbol and weapon - and a history of American culinary tradition and multiculturalism. The book follows the fortunes of dozens of enterprising immigrant cooks and grocers, street hawkers and restauranteurs who have cultivated and changed the tastes of native-born Americans from the 17th century to the late-20th century. It looks at the mass coporate production of ethnic food obliterating their identities, and at the surprsingly peaceful relations between Americanized foods and pure ethnic dishes. The author invites the reader to consider: if we are what we eat, who are we? Amid wrangling over immigration and tribal differences, it argues that on a basic level, in the way life is sustained and pleasure is sought, we are all multi-cultural. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780674001909

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