Red Sauce America - Food, Culture, and Italian American Experience

Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American Is Available Today

By on Monday, April 4th, 2022 at 8:57 am | 585 views

Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American

Available now, Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American is now available. Order online or at at your local bookstore.

In Red Sauce, Ian MacAllen traces the evolution of traditional Italian-American cuisine, often referred to as “red sauce Italian,” from its origins in Italy to its transformation in America into a new, distinct cuisine. It is a fascinating social and culinary history exploring the integration of red sauce food into mainstream America alongside the blending of Italian immigrant otherness into a national American identity.

The story follows the small parlor restaurants immigrants launched from their homes to large, popular destinations, and eventually to commodified fast food and casual dining restaurants. Some dishes like fettuccine Alfredo and spaghetti alla Caruso owe their success to celebrities, and Italian-American cuisine generally has benefited from a rich history in popular culture.

Drawing on inspiration from Southern Italian cuisine, early Italian immigrants to America developed new recipes and modified old ones. Ethnic Italians invented dishes like lobster fra Diavolo, spaghetti and meatballs, and veal parmigiana, and popularized foods like pizza and baked lasagna that had once been seen as overly foreign.

Eventually, the classic red-checkered-table-cloth Italian restaurant would be replaced by a new idea of what it means for food to be Italian, even as ‘red sauce’ became entrenched in American culture. This booklooks at how and why these foods became part of the national American diet, and focuses on the stories, myths, and facts behind classic (and some not so classic) dishes within Italian-American cuisine.

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“Like a bowl overflowing with pasta on some nonna’s table, there’s more than enough goodness to go around in Ian MacAllen’s loving tribute to the immigrant food that helped change America. You’ll read Red Sauce and understand the history of a certain strain of Italian cuisine and how it shaped our palates, but most importantly, you’ll be hungry for more.” — Jason Diamond, author of “The Sprawl” and “Searching for John Hughes”

“There’s nothing more American than pizza—so much so that Ladies Home Journal once compared it to eating an apple pie. This, of course, might come as news to its Italian creators. In this fascinating work, Ian MacAllen expertly unpacks how America fell in love with Italian food. Filled with humor and fascinating tid-bits, Red Sauce will give you something excellent to talk about over your next plate of spaghetti.” — Jennifer Wright, author of “Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes That Fought Them”

“With this entertaining and appetizing cultural history, MacAllen, like a resourceful chef, offers his readers something entirely new: the compelling story of how Italian food entered the American kitchen, and how it evolved from a foreign oddity into a ubiquitous staple.” — Nicholas Mancusi, author of “A Philosophy of Ruin”

“At a time when the food media seem to have forgotten the appeal and importance of Italian-American food, Ian MacAllen’s Red Sauce is a restorative whose diligent research and engaging writing puts everything in perspective and shows why Italian-American food continues to be a favorite both here and abroad.” — John Mariani, author, “How Italian Food Conquered the World” and “The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink”

“Ian MacAllen’s Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American is a delightful read! Clear, entertaining, and insightful. Well researched and includes historical recipes. It is a significant contribution to understanding Italian American foodways. P.S. I love red sauce!”— Andrew F. Smith, author of “The Tomato in America: Early History, Culture and Cookery”

“An entertaining and authoritative account of Italian-American cuisine and the restaurants that popularized it. The catalogue and description of sauces is by itself a work of art.” — Paul Freedman, Yale University