Reader Gerhard from Vienna submits this interesting email:
I think if you leave your homeland for another continent, you’ll hold on to anything that evokes the feeling of home. So why fresh pasta once a week if you can bring in Italy every day? Still you have to get accustomed to the new environment.
A fascinating thought for me as an European, btw. All our roots can be traced to some other place… but living in America, almost everybody’s roots have been unearthed just a very short time ago… a couple of hundred years ago or less… which makes me wonder if people do hold on to the things, the food, the traditions of their origin.
I am digressing… anyway, still today Greek people bring their food in pots and pans to bakeries and pick it up again when it is done. When the bread-oven is hot anyway, while not use it for dinner as well? btw, this is why Greek food has a reputation for being served lukewarm; it takes a while to bring the Stifado back home from the bakery
To your first point, Gerhard, it’s all about what you grow up with. Especially in and around bigger cities, American kids are used to asking each other about their nationalities. Though I can’t remember too many childhood friends whose parents had accents, most of their grandparents did. That I think points to the huge influx of European immigrants we had all through the last century, especially between the 20’s and 50’s. Of course immigrants are still coming, though these days from different places, particularly Central America.
To your second point about communal ovens: I know some places still retain the culture. I understand that while there are only a handful left in places like Italy, there are more in Greece. North Africa is where I understand communal oven culture still thrives. In places like Morocco and Algeria. There I’m told you can tell just about everything about everyone in town by the foods they bring to the oven — who’s rich, who’s poor, who’s having guests, who’s getting married. Somebody should write a book about communal oven culture some time before it’s all gone!