How Italian Food Became Italian American

Famed New York City chef Michael White reveals the origins of popular Italian American dishes.

Anyone who has been to Italy can attest that Italian cooking in America can vastly differ from that of the homeland – from the pizza itself to the pepperoni placed on top.  But how did this come to be?  Dan Gentile of Huffington Post uncovers how certain dishes became “Italian” staples in America (even though no one in Italy eats them).

This article, written by Dan Gentile, appears on Huffington Post:

The Surprising Origins of 8 Italian-American Dishes

Sometimes the greatest food creations come from adapting to necessity, like when the Earl of Sandwich put meat between bread for a quick snack to get through long gambling sessions, or when KFC doubled down on Americans’ need to be even less healthy.

Classic Italian-American food is no different. When immigrants began arriving on our shores, they couldn’t find the right ingredients and were met with palates and traditions that varied greatly from those of their paisanos back home. They adapted their food culture to these new conditions, bringing forth a menu of dishes that might seem unfamiliar or downright confusing to native Italians. But on the other hand, some old traditions lived on even though the original context for the food was long gone.

To learn a little more about these dishes, we talked to Michael White, the NYC-based chef behind Michelin-starred restaurants like Marea and Ai Fiori, to fill us in on the backstories of some of the most iconic Italian-American foods. Read on to learn about the origins of garlic bread, meatballs, and pizza.

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