by Sheryl Bellman
This book is about so much more than recipes and traditions! The perfect gift for anyone who has ever had a favorite pizza parlor or spumoni counter or capocollo provender, America’s Little Italys is bound to elicit heartwarming memories and culinary daydreams. Starting with an illustrated timeline of the Italian food experience, going all the way back to the origins of olive oil and garlic in 6000 BC, it then traces the advent of pasta, espresso, gelato and other quintessentially Italian treats, both in the Old Country and the New World. In Bellman’s brief history of the Italian experience in the United States, she draws insightful parallels between the many different ethnic groups who have chosen America as their future. Pointing out that Italian-Americans hold the record for the largest ethnic migration in history, she describes the different waves that peaked in 1907 (when Italian immigrants were partially blamed for a recession that occurred as a result of a nationwide banking scheme. Sound familiar?). Illustrated with more than 400 photographs and ephemera, America’s Little Italys travels to 14 cities, describing the evolution of each one’s own Italian neighborhood, profiling beloved restaurants, cafes, shops, bakeries, indoor and outdoor markets and sharing 83 coveted family recipes of favorite dishes and desserts. By focusing on one of America’s most colorful, hard-working yet fun-loving communities, the author paints a beautiful portrait of the bygone years so many of us remember vividly. Luckily, those days live on in a few very special neighborhoods which this book carefully maps out for its readers.