Archegetes oikistes, and new-oikistes : the cults of by Lane, Christine Sharon

By Lane, Christine Sharon

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In the regions of the Veneto, Piedmont, Lombardy, and Friuli, soup kitchens offered well-balanced meals, including meat, for as little as ten cents. The first kitchens were set up in Turin, beginning in the 1880s; Milan followed suit in the 1890s. Later, soup kitchens were set up in Naples and Rome in order to feed the indigent. The kitchens attracted numerous customers in urban areas, where workers could stop by on their way home from work to pick up a meal or eat there. They were less successful in rural areas and in the southern regions, where charity was inadequate and carried a certain stigma.

The relationship between the budding nationalization of food habits on the Italian peninsula and the Italian diaspora at the turn of the century warrants careful consideration. How did these two cultural and economic itineraries come together? It is obvious that many Italians left the peninsula to find work and bread. 66 High salaries were attractive incentives. Citizens from all regions of Italy could make over ten times the annual salary of a prosperous northern Italian farming family. 67 Italian immigrants chose a variety of living and working arrangements; return migration from countries like the United States and Argentina was the rule, not the exception.

Despite the occasional pressure from social workers or factory managers exerted on Italian-Americans to ‘Americanize’ their foodways, they chose to consume familiar foods. One southern Italian immigrant recalled that upon her father’s death in 1915, her family was visited by a group of social workers, who deposited several mysterious boxes with the family, presumably as gifts. 74 Similarly, immigrants from northern Italy experienced dietary improvement, but the path to such improvements varied slightly from that of southern Italians.

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