The Love-Hate Struggle Between Women, Foodways, And Cultural Identity

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The Love-Hate Struggle Between Women, Foodways, and Cultural Identity A common trait seen across cultures is the importance placed on food. Food is the glue that kept families connected to their heritage, culture, and lifestyle. When immigrants migrated to America, most were forced to either adopt the new foodways of America, or modify their foods from home. Italian immigrants created dishes so “Americanized” through the absence of key ingredients such as tomatoes and garlic, that it was almost unrecognizable to foods of the homeland. African-Americans, unable to obtain ingredients indigenous to Africa, found familiarity in the sweet potato, eggplant, and turnips, and incorporated these flavors into their cuisine. Both cultures used food and communal eating as forms of socialization, and immigrants soon found that their foodways became a source of identity. The mothers and wives were revered for the hearty food they prepared and thus responsible for creating this intimate connection to past. Because the kitchen, and everything involved with it was so central to family unity, it would not be ridiculous to claim that for many cultures, the kitchen was the heart that pumped the blood, or in this case food, to the rest of the family. Through historical works such as Hasia Diner’s Hungering for America, Alice A. Deck’s “Now Then—Who Said Biscuits?”- The Black Woman Cook as Fetish in American Advertising, 1905-1953, Tracey N. Poe’s “The Origins of Black Soul Food in Urban Identity: Chicago, 1915-1947”, and Harvey Levenstein’s “The American Response to Italian Food, 18880-1930”, one can analyze both the Italians and African-American’s response towards their cultural identity. While the Italian culture embraced the perception of themselves through women and their influence over foodways, the African Americans rejected these negative perceptions that form their identity.

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