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September 23, 2004

Ciao bell'[?]

Italian is probably my favorite language,

judged purely by aesthetic pleasure from both listening and speaking, and my second favorite cuisine (after Malaysian/Singaporean, which I suppose is sort of cheating because it encompasses southeast Chinese and south Indian along with Malay).

Americans' early impressions of Italian cooking, like their impressions of Chinese cooking, were by the specific local origins of immigrants as well as how those immigrants adapted to the pantries and palates of their new hosts. (I, for one, prefer my lasagna with ricotta rather than bechamel. [Ducks bombardment of rotten tomatoes])

If anyone familiar with regional Italian cooking knows if dishes associated with Italian-Americans (e.g. sausage & peppers, cheese steaks, etc.) have original analogues back in the Old Country, well, that's what comments are for.

Stacy Albin, "You Say Prosciutto, I Say Pro-SHOOT, and Purists Cringe", The New York Times, 2004 September 20.

Ann Gustafson can discuss food - especially Italian food. She spent many days in the Bronx with her Sicilian grandmother, Sebastiana Ceraolo, learning how to cook with mozzarella. Only Mrs. Gustafson did not call it "mozzarella.'' She said "mozzarell.''

Wrong?

Not to many New Yorkers or New Jerseyans. (Doesn't Tony Soprano drop his final vowels?) Not to some vendors at the annual Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy this week. But it makes Italian teachers, the purists who love the language just as Dante wrote it, wince.

They suffer prosciutto (pro-SHOOT-toe) becoming pro-SHOOT, calzone (cal-TSO-nay) becoming cal-ZONE and pasta e fagioli (PAH-stah eh faj-YOH-lee) becoming pasta fasul (fa-ZOOL).
....
Liliana Dussi, a retired New York district director for the Berlitz language schools, said many first- and second-generation Italians whose ancestors immigrated to the United States before World War I were informally taught Italian expressions and the names of food, some of which has ended up part of everyday language in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Posted by jeet at 10:51 PM