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Take-out food - American Style

Novembre 2016
Il cibo d’asporto dice molto non solo sulle abitudini alimentari degli americani, ma anche sui cambiamenti storici: l’arrivo della tv ne ha incrementato il consumo; la macchina ha glorificato il fast food. Ma anche la pizza e il cibo cinese hanno qualcosa da raccontare…

di Voice of America

From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, the history of take-out food can tell us a lot. This is because how and what Americans eat can often reflect the changes taking place in society at any particular time.
“You can learn a lot from food,” says Emelyn Rude, a food historian and author of the book Tastes Like Chicken: A History of America’s Favorite Bird. “Everyone eats, and it’s one of those unique ways in which agriculture, science, health, nutrition and culture all come together in one single dish.”


Take pizza, for example. Americans were initially suspicious of food favoured by Italian immigrants, in part because some of the ingredients were foreign to them. But that changed after the Second World War. American troops loved the food they ate in Italy. When they came home, they told everybody about it. After the war, a box was invented to keep pizza hot and pizza became part of U.S. diet. On a typical day, one in eight Americans eats pizza.


Take-out food also can teach about darker periods in U.S. history.
The Jim Crow laws, enacted by Southern states from the 1880s to the mid 1960s, legalized the segregation of blacks and whites. If African Americans wanted to eat at a particular restaurant that didn’t have a section for people of colour, they went to the back of the building and asked for “food to go.
The California Gold Rush of 1849 was also important for the development of take-out food. People moved to California from all over the world, including China. Some Chinese entrepreneurs organized food and laundry services for the gold prospectors. As Rude says, the fortune hunters didn’t make any money, but the people who served them food did. The first American restaurant to offer food delivery was probably a Chinese place in San Francisco in the 1920s.


The advent of television and the automobile also had dramatic effects on American eating habits. By the 1950s, TV had infiltrated millions of American homes.
People became more interested in staying home and watching TV, rather than going out to eat. When restaurants experienced a dramatic drop in sales, they knew it was time to adapt or die. “They all started developing these take-home menus and delivery,” Rude says, “just so people wouldn’t have to leave their homes. They could do both: eat restaurant food and watch television.”
The automobile also had a big impact. Rude says that “The car really revolutionized how everyone eats because we could get food easily and super cheaply. And so, yes, we owe fast food to cars.”
More recently, the digital revolution has had an effect on American eating habits, even if the most popular food that people order via apps or the Internet is — that’s right — pizza!  

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Take-out, food to go, take-away.  Significano tutte la stessa cosa: cibo d’asporto. Ma mentre le prime due sono espressioni tipiche dell’American English, take-away è tipicamente British.