Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American

Product Details
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
5.8 X 8.71 X 0.92 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author

Ian MacAllen is a writer and book critic. He has written reviews and interviews for Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Rumpus, Trampset, Electric Literature, and Fiction Advocate, with other nonfiction in The Billfold, Thought Catalog, and io9. His short fiction has appeared in The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, Joyland Magazine, and elsewhere. His maternal grandfather was born in Bagnoli del Trigno in Molise, Italy and his maternal grandmother's family was from Naples and Sicily. He is descended from a line of Sicilian Strega. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.


[A] well-researched look into how the cuisine of Italian immigrants made its way into the American mainstream.

-- "New York Post"

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"

MacAllen contends that Italian-American food, once spurned as a garlic-ridden, irredeemably ethnic cuisine, has become so much a part of U.S. palates that it is now, quite simply, American cooking.... Sharing his vast knowledge of history, ingredients, and technique, MacAllen offers an in-depth history of the Italian contribution to America's culinary landscape.

-- "Booklist"

Countless diners grew up eating Italian food, whether at home or at a particular restaurant. But Italian cuisine underwent a transformation in the United States, becoming a distinctive cooking style all its own. Ian MacAllen's new book Red Sauce offers an in-depth look at how this happened--and it might just inspire a couple of food cravings while you're reading.

-- "Inside Hook"

Once in a long while, a book comes along and immediately qualifies as a "must have" in the Italian American home library. In Red Sauce, author Ian MacAllen has created one of those books!

-- "Italian American Podcast"

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"

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"

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

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"

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"

As if Mark Kurlansky's Salt and Ada Boni's The Talisman Italian Cookbook had a lovechild, Ian MacAllen's debut book Red Sauce combines a thoroughly researched history along with succulent recipes, and serves an entertaining and insightful book upon our plates. MacAllen's sly and engaging volume gives us a sociocultural as well as culinary history of how Italian food became American, and takes us on a mouth-watering journey of transition from the time when "spaghetti confused early adopters," "pizza was unpronounceable," and "garlic was feared" all the way to today when America has "pizzas with pineapple to irreverent pasta combinations." In lesser hands, what might have been a dull, academic or patchy read, becomes compelling and delicious in MacAllen's brilliant hands. He shares his vast knowledge of a thoroughly researched history, ingredients, and technique, and serves a book that is simultaneously witty and teeming with scholarly facts. "The mass market American winter tomato" might be "bland, tough and flavorless," but this engaging book is like marinara sauce--sweet and spicy "with a hint of oregano and garlic." Like a bowl of overfull lasagna on some nonna's table, his fun and fact-filled history of food is worth savoring.

-- "The Brooklyn Rail"

MacAllen has written a kind of social history of Italians in the United States through the lens of their evolving culinary traditions. He charts the way Italian immigrant communities -- made up primarily of people from the more impoverished south of Italy -- adapted their simple cucina povera to an American context.

-- "The Provincetown Independent"

Red Sauce offers a deep dive into both authentic Italian and Italian-American foods, one that has been meticulously researched and footnoted. MacAllen has curated details that are likely to interest food historians, cooks, food lovers, and Italophiles.

-- "More Time To Travel Blog"