Creole Italian
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Creole Italian

Sicilian Immigrants and the Shaping of New Orleans Food Culture

Title Details

Pages: 264

Illustrations: 29 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 08/01/2018

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5355-5

List Price: $27.95


Pub Date: 08/01/2018

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5356-2

List Price: $83.95


Pub Date: 08/01/2018

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5357-9

List Price: $83.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published in association with Southern Foodways Alliance

Creole Italian

Sicilian Immigrants and the Shaping of New Orleans Food Culture

How generations of Sicilian immigrants flavored creole cuisine

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Awards

In Creole Italian, Justin A. Nystrom explores the influence Sicilian immigrants have had on New Orleans foodways. His culinary journey follows these immigrants from their first impressions on Louisiana food culture in the mid-1830s and along their path until the 1970s. Each chapter touches on events that involved Sicilian immigrants and the relevancy of their lives and impact on New Orleans. Sicilian immigrants cut sugarcane, sold groceries, ran truck farms, operated bars and restaurants, and manufactured pasta. Citing these cultural confluences, Nystrom posits that the significance of Sicilian influence on New Orleans foodways traditionally has been undervalued and instead should be included, along with African, French, and Spanish cuisine, in the broad definition of “creole.”

Creole Italian chronicles how the business of food, broadly conceived, dictated the reasoning, means, and outcomes for a large portion of the nearly forty thousand Sicilian immigrants who entered America through the port of New Orleans in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and how their actions and those of their descendants helped shape the food town we know today.

Justin A. Nystrom tells how Sicilians and other Italian immigrants have shaped New Orleans’ food culture—and how ‘creole cultural’ hegemony has obfuscated those contributions. Nystrom's writing has a fluent style, vigor, and level of detail that makes Creole Italian a terrific read. The book makes a substantial contribution to food studies and immigration history by providing specificity and detail to broader histories of immigrant-run businesses selling produce and cooked food. It nicely complements studies by Donna Gabaccia, Hasia Diner, and Simone Cinotto on Italian immigrants and food cultures.

—Krishnendu Ray, author of The Ethnic Restaurateur

Creole Italian is an engaging new book in the burgeoning field of ethnic food studies. Justin A. Nystrom promises to shake, rattle, and roll New Orleans Francophiles and traditionalists. He argues that the city’s vaunted French Quarter might more accurately be called the Sicilian Quarter. Who knew? . . . . Readers will enjoy the delicious story of the origins of New Orleans’s storied culinary culture.

—Gary R. Mormino, The Journal of American History

An important book that examines the migration, Americanization, and food culture of Sicilian immigrants in one of the greatest tourist destinations in the United States.

—Diance C. Vecchio, The Journal of Southern History


James Beard Book Awards, James Beard Foundation

About the Author/Editor

JUSTIN A. NYSTROM is an associate professor of history at Loyola University in New Orleans and director of the Center for the Study of New Orleans. He is the author of New Orleans after the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom and the director of the documentary film This Haus of Memories.