The Best Italian-American Foods, Ranked
Did your favorite make the list?
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History of Italians and Italian Food in America
While it's difficult to imagine now, there was once a time when our favorite "Italian" dishes were seen as strange or foreign. A combination of assimilation and marketing turned these foods into must-haves for Americans of all backgrounds.
In the 1800s, there was an influx of immigrants from Southern Italy; by the 1880s, 80% of the Italian immigrants in the U.S. were from Southern Italy. Some moved to the U.S. permanently, while others just wanted to make enough money to return home and buy land in Italy.
Those who stayed in America started looking for ways to recreate the cuisine they grew up with, though the availability of certain ingredients meant some substitutions had to be made. When soldiers of the Second World War returned home from Europe craving the "new" foods they'd tasted overseas, many Italian-Americans opened restaurants to satisfy them.
Through substitution and recipe-tweaking, many "Italian" dishes have changed into something very different from their origins. Because of the regional roots of the Italian immigrants, many of the dishes we find in the U.S. are more closely related to the pasta and sauce heavy cuisine of Southern Italy and Sicily.
Here's a list of the best Americanized versions of Italian dishes.
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Chef Tips and Tricks
You'll be eating this tiramisu with a twist all summer!
- 2 cups strawberries
- 12 oz (1 1/2 cups) mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- Blend the strawberries to a pulp.
- Mix the mascarpone cheese, sour cream, and sugar.
- Crush the ginger biscuits.
- In a jar or bowl, layer the biscuits, the strawberries, and the cream mix (biscuits, part of cream mix, strawberries, and then another layer of cream mix).
- Top off with a fresh sliced strawberry and some ginger biscuit crumbs.