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Food and PowerA Culinary Ethnography of Israel$
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Nir Avieli

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520290099

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520290099.001.0001

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Why We Like Italian Food

Why We Like Italian Food

(p.82) Three Why We Like Italian Food
Food and Power

Nir Avieli

University of California Press

This chapter considers the extreme popularity of Italian food in Israel, second only to Mizrahi food. Based on observations from a study conducted in a dozen Italian restaurants, the chapter argues that Italian food is so popular because the portions are very large, the food is dairy-based, and the restaurants are family friendly—all of which correspond to specific sociological trends in contemporary Israel. The most intriguing finding, however, is that cooks and diners repeatedly asserted that the popularity of this cuisine stems from ecological and cultural affinities between Israel and Italy. The chapter contends that Italian restaurants allow Israeli Jews, and especially members of the socioeconomic Ashkenazi middle class, to imagine themselves as belonging to Mediterranean Europe rather than to the Middle East.

Keywords:   Israel, Italian food, Mizrahi food, Italian restaurants, contemporary Israel, Italy, Ashkenazi middle class, Mediterranean Europe

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