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Of Migrants and Meanings

Italians and Their Food Businesses in Brussels, 1876–1914


Olivier de Maret

The circulation of goods, ideas, and people has shaped a common European food culture. But practical questions pertaining to this process remain unanswered. How and why do changes in food habits occur and what are their implications? What are the social and cultural processes involved between hosts and migrants and how do they play out in the face of economic and political imperatives? This book addresses these questions through the combined study of food and migration in the past.
By building on studies in the fields of anthropology, geography, history, and sociology, the present monograph analyzes the public foodways of Italian migrants in Brussels at the turn of the twentieth century as a way of exploring how migrants used the business of food to construct meaning and articulate sentiments of belonging. It describes and discusses Italian neighborhoods, migratory patterns, occupations, and food businesses (i.e. cafés, restaurants, shops, and peddling activities) by applying quantitative and qualitative methods of interpretation to archival, business, journalistic, and photographic sources. The study bridges a gap in the historiography of Italian food and migration by providing a Western European counterpoint to Italian experiences in North and South America and a thorough discussion of the forging of Italianness outside of Italy at a crucial time in that nation’s history. This book ultimately underlines the creative and innovative role migrants play in the social and cultural processes that shape human societies.
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Chapter 1: Introduction



1.1.   Framing the Study

In the year 1888, a peculiar yet recurring event took place in the Belgian capital. The liberal newspaper Le Soir informed its readers of

Un curieux et pittoresque spectacle, rue Royale, vendredi soir. Les Italiens et Italiennes, fort nombreux à Schaerbeek, où ils exercent la profession de modèles, musiciens ambulants ou mouleurs, se rendaient en corps à l’église Ste-Marie. C’est de tradition chez eux de porter en pompe, à cette époque, à la madone, des chandeliers ou autres cadeaux plus ou moins riches. Comme tous les ans, ce cortège avait attiré à Ste-Marie une foule assez considérable et curieuse d’assister au défilé de ces costumes bariolés, aux couleurs tranchantes, seyant si bien aux types, fort beaux parfois, de cette colonie qui se conserve ici pure de toute alliance étrangère.1

This description underlines the visibility of Italian migrants in the late nineteenth century, not only – as is well known – in the Americas, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Switzerland, but also in Brussels.2 The colorful religious processions, distinct popular professions, and localized Italian neighborhood noted by the Belgian journalist were likewise observed in other places of Italian migration at the time.3 ← 17 | 18 →

For centuries already, Italians had been migrating in search of seasonal work and commercial ventures.4 However, these migratory trends became more acute between 1861 – when the country was politically unified – and World War I as a consequence of agricultural crises, demographic explosion, and socio-political unrest.5 After the early departure of many Northern Italians crossing the Alps on their way to the rest of Europe, the turn of the century saw a majority of Southern Italians flock to Mediterranean countries and the Americas.6 In Europe, the first period of recorded massive Italian migration stretched from 1876 to 1915 and witnessed roughly six million men, women, and children follow the path of migration in pursuit of better living conditions.7 Most stayed for a short period, many were constantly on the road, while others settled more permanently.

Artisans, peddlers, financiers, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, laborers, and industrialists were just some of the more popular professions exercised by these migrants. In the countries, cities, and towns of arrival, they tended to organize themselves into neighborhoods, communities, or colonies as they created institutions, newspapers, and businesses that strove to maintain and profit from links with Italy actively encouraged by the Italian State.8 Although the reality of a culturally united Italy was still in the making, many Italian migrants coming from various regions and speaking different dialects, nevertheless forged, through the experiences of migration, a sense of what it meant to be Italian, i.e. an Italian identity.9 Though the expressions and meanings associated with italianità or Italianness varied greatly, often reflecting attitudes and beliefs held about them in the countries of arrival, the Italian identities that were constructed and negotiated by the migrants themselves articulated adaptation to the new contexts they faced.10 ← 18 | 19 →

With Italy’s political unification, intellectuals and politicians ignited a debate not only about the existence and content of an Italian national character and identity, but also about the relationship between the country and its migrants.11 Around the end of the nineteenth century and with increasing flows of emigration, it became critical for the Italian state to forge loyalties and relate to its citizens and their descendants in Italy and throughout the world.12 In this process of nation building, it became evident that Italians in Italy and abroad had different loyalties and tended at first to identify more with their village, city, or region of origin – as well as with the places of arrival – than with the country.13 Thanks to distance and economic and political support the state provided to Italians worldwide, migrants developed specific brands of italianità that in turn influenced how Italianness was perceived and constructed in Italy.14 In this dialectical process of nation building and identity construction that produced multiple Italian identities claiming roots in an overarching italianità characterized by “sincretismo,”15 the years that led from unification to World War I and the influence of Italian migrants worldwide proved crucial.

In these processes, the Italians living and working in Brussels at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century played a distinct yet still undocumented role, offering a Western European outlook. In Belgium, Italian migration is generally understood and studied from the perspective either of the nineteenth-century and interwar political exiles or of the mostly Southern Italians who arrived after 1946 to work in the coal mines of Wallonia and Limburg.16 However, the number of Italian arrivals had already increased in the interwar years after a significant start at the turn of the century. Migratory patterns were nevertheless quite different. While interwar and postwar Italians were often ← 19 | 20 → hired before migration and settled in the coal mining regions, turn-of-the-century migrants came to the country’s largest cities (i.e. Brussels, Antwerp, Liege, and Ghent) as a result of often temporary, mobile, isolated, and spontaneous migration in search of work or a haven from political persecution.17 As such, they provide a different perspective on Italian migration, one that highlights decisions taken by individuals seen in retrospect as entrepreneurs and early settlers who broke the social, cultural, and economic barriers, and created opportunities for successive migrants.

In the decades leading up to World War I, Brussels attracted the majority of Italian migrants in the country and saw the consolidation of an official community made up of an Italian consular and diplomatic presence, a Belgian-Italian chamber of commerce, a mutual aid society, a benevolent society, and an Italian press, which aimed at informing, representing, and assisting Italians in the capital and promoting Belgian-Italian relations.18 Besides a small and wealthy elite of financiers, aristocrats, and industrialists, most Italian migrants were quite poor and/or political exiles. For these Italians, turn-of-the-century Brussels was probably an attractive place at the heart of a bustling conurbation going through profound architectural, socio-economic, and demographic transformation. The capital of a small Western European country with developing transportation ways (i.e. a very dense railway system, harbors, waterways, and land roads) and located between France, Great Britain, Germany, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands, Brussels was associated with a relatively open-minded and liberal reputation, a prosperous economy, and a thriving entertainment sector.19 Italians and Belgians shared a common linguistic heritage, as both French and Italian are Romance languages rooted in Latin. French was not only still the international lingua franca20 but also spoken by the Belgian elite and administration. Combined with a common religious and political background of Catholicism and parliamentary monarchy, all these aspects made Brussels a promising destination for Italian migrants.21 ← 20 | 21 →

Central to understanding turn-of-the-century Italian migration to Belgium, the extent of the community’s cohesion before 1914 still remains open to debate. On the one hand, low numbers of migrants, the absence of political organization, and acute social segregation seem to preclude the development of any shared communal feelings, while on the other hand, the institutionalization that developed in the 1890s along charitable, educational, commercial, and journalistic lines suggests increased organization and solidarity (discussed in Chapter 2).22 Historian Anne Morelli has suggested that feelings of community must have developed more significantly through the public places where migrants met and socialized, such as food shops and cafés.23 Inside these establishments, socialization undoubtedly took place around the food and drink offered, sold, and consumed, putting food at the center of crucial social and cultural processes. Indeed, extensive research into foodways24 has shown how humans use food symbolically to construct meaning and express belonging, acts that take on acute significance in the experiences of migrants and that provide the theoretical anchor for this study.25

The relations between food and identity and between food and migration have been analyzed in great detail by two sociologists in the 1980s. First, Claude Fischler has argued that food is a strong marker of identity and essential to its construction. It enables us to mark differences and similarities, collectively or individually, from within and from without. Defining who we are involves clarifying our relation to others. The construction of identity then is a dynamic process – known as identification – ← 21 | 22 → in constant negotiation that involves multiple sets of belongings and ultimately helps us make sense of the world and find a place in it.26 Through the “act of incorporation,” we not only ingest food but also incorporate its social and cultural properties, becoming thus included in a “culinary system” and excluded from others.27

Second, Manuel Calvo has shown that migrants’ foodways reflect their degree of adaptation to the host society (i.e. of arrival). In order to evaluate this degree, the overall characteristics of the migrant group (e.g. demographic and socio-economic make-up, social and human capital) and of the host society (e.g. job market, legal framework, linguistic setting, degree of broadmindedness, collective representations) must be evaluated. He identifies a “continuum alimentaire” consistent with the migrants’ place of departure and reflective of the place of arrival, one that evolves over time with socialization and the specificities of each group’s experiences. Moreover, the persistence of food practices among migrants – who tend to maintain eating habits longer than their original language – heightens their symbolic meanings and functions.28 Though his approach focuses exclusively on the changes brought to supposedly homogenous foodways adapting to the host society,29 he makes a strong case and provides a solid basis for the analysis of migrant foodways in general.

More recently, Food Studies scholar Fabio Parasecoli has provided an inclusive perspective on the relation between food, identity, and migration. According to him, “the identification and reproduction of foodways constitute a crucial component in the emergence and operation of migrant communities.” In order to assess the meanings associated with food-related changes and avoid “the identification of monolithic and essential identities,” Parasecoli identifies four, non-exhaustive and non-mutually exclusive, categories of migrant experiences: the personal, which refers to the “immediate and idiosyncratic” experiences of individuals; the communal, to “the intimate circles of family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and the immediate social sphere”; the collective, to “individuals and ← 22 | 23 → groups that might not be in direct contact but somehow share the same origin and story”; and the institutional, to “public and private institutions as diverse as business firms, cultural institutes, and governments.” However, to fully grasp the constantly shifting meanings associated with migrant foodways and uncover the underpinning power relations, one must analyze the “signifying networks” that “help individuals and communities make sense of their cultural environment.” It is precisely through “a sense of shared experience” that feelings of community develop among migrants, that is communities “come into being at the very moment when they rediscover certain elements of their material culture as central to their shared identity,” such as food. Hence, foodways represent “cultural markers” that “identify and rally individuals and communities.”30

These theoretical reflections deal with fundamental socio-cultural issues. How to make sense of the world and to fit in (or not), and by what means these aims are achieved, are essential matters to all of us – today and in the past. Historians rely on contemporary theories, using different sources, in order to seek answers to the same questions asked in the past. This is precisely what this study aims to achieve by questioning the foodways of Italian migrants in Brussels as an innovative way of exploring how identities were constructed and community cohesion articulated at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century.

In order to investigate this, I have had to adapt to the available material. Despite attempts, I was neither able to locate survivors from that period nor family members, nor uncover first hand evidence (e.g. letters, diaries, photographs, private cookbooks, or account books) left by the actors. The more personal and private aspects have hence remained beyond my reach. Nevertheless, the vast public domain left written evidence of many sorts, from advertisements in newspapers and commercial directories to police reports and official licenses. By focusing on all types of food businesses (i.e. cafés, restaurants, shops, and peddling activities), their names, the products they sold, the people who operated them, and the advertisements they produced, I am able to describe and analyze the ways in which Italians used food to forge identities that played out in the public (as opposed to the domestic) sphere31 and, more specifically, how they commercialized food along Italian lines, thus creating meaning for and constructing images of Italianness and of community. Strikingly, most marketing strategies promoted the food’s quality, genuineness, and exoticism, which were associated with the owner’s Italian background. Food not only enabled the active and never-ending construction of identities by Italians wishing to ← 23 | 24 → belong to a specific group, but also articulated their adaptation to the host society through the language and products used in advertisements. These businesses were fundamental public places where socialization materialized between migrants and/or non-Italian customers.

My concern with the location and spatiality of migrant food businesses stems from the realization that places, like identities, are socially constructed and articulate social relations.32 They can be understood as “changing constellations of human commitments, capacities, and strategies.”33 Places are also constantly “in the process of becoming”34 and provide the framework for all human interactions. A sense of place then becomes particularly acute for migrants who deal on a daily basis with the consequences of displacement i.e. of “a sense of a geographical world where cultural lives and economic processes are characterized not only by the points in space where they take and make place, but also by the movements to, from, and between those points.”35 In fact, migrants “cope with the dislocation […] by recreating a sense of place” through foodways.36 Acknowledging the primordial and structuring aspects of foodways, sociologist Jean-Pierre Poulain has advanced the concept of an “espace social alimentaire” in order to study human relations.37 In my case though, I find that the concept of “foodscape” – defined as “a dynamic social construction that relates food to specific places, people, and meanings”38 – provides an adequate mental framework for approaching the complex relationships between place and foodways.39 I will use it ← 24 | 25 → mainly to refer to an Italian public (as opposed to domestic) foodscape that involved more than “semi-public” places like restaurants,40 consisting instead of catering, shopkeeping, and peddling businesses that connected transnational41 meanings constructed in Brussels with those in Italy, or to refer to the Brussels catering foodscape to describe the food, caterers, and meanings associated with catering establishments in Brussels.42

Besides being influenced by a renewed interest in spatial concerns in historical studies,43 this study draws inspiration from cultural history’s interest in symbols, representations, and practices, and more generally in how meaning was constructed in the past.44 It also follows cultural geography’s concern with “the local contextualities of cultural practices,” where contexts are “understood as produced through networks of connections and disconnections, circuits of cultural flows, and constructed representations or knowledges of the geographies of those circuits and the materials flowing through them.”45 Thus, the overall migratory experience can be defined in relation to its places and, because “it is the things-in-motion that illuminate their human and social context,” can be understood by following “the things themselves, for their meanings are inscribed in their forms, their uses, and their trajectories.”46 This suggests looking at ← 25 | 26 → the “cultural biography of things,” where “commodities must be not only produced materially as things, but also culturally marked as being a certain kind of thing.”47 More than others then, migrants think through place as they live in a state of constant comparison between the places of departure, travel, and, sometimes temporary, arrival.48 These places in turn influence the expression and content of individual and collective identities, which “are as much an interactional product of ‘external’ identification by others as of ‘internal’ self-identification” (i.e. hosts versus migrants) based on “relationships of similarity and difference”49 (i.e. here, there, and in-between places). Therefore, the complex, dynamic, and shifting meanings of these identities should be sought after by following the movements of people and things, in the context of “the commodification of cultural difference.”50

In migrants’ identification processes, language plays an essential role: translation academic Michael Cronin has argued that “the condition of the migrant is the condition of the translated being” who moves physically and symbolically between places and cultures.51 As a basic social constructionist who agrees with the assumption that “it is through the daily interactions between people in the course of social life that our versions of knowledge become fabricated,” I believe that language is a fundamental form of social interaction that fuels the social processes that produce meaning.52 Both language and identity mirror socio-economic forces, which, if they exert strong enough pressure on a migrant community, can jeopardize the survival of that community’s original language though not its group identities, which can be expressed in a myriad of other ways.53 Food, as “a medium through which people can make statements about ← 26 | 27 → themselves,” is one of these ways.54 Language is thus of paramount concern to my argumentation, especially because it provides a system that produces meaning and constructs identities, through representation.55 Therefore, the language used by migrants to advertise food is read for signs of adaptation and of how, when, and why place and identity are constructed.

In other words, this study focuses on Italian migrants in Brussels and how they used food businesses to earn a living and give meaning to their experiences. It does so by focusing mainly on the city and commune of Bruxelles56 that hosted the highest proportion of Italians living and working in the country, as will be described in the next chapter. However, by the end of the nineteenth century, Italians were also present in the nine adjacent communes57 (i.e. Anderlecht, Etterbeek, Ixelles, Koekelberg, Laeken, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Saint-Gilles, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, and Schaerbeek) that made up the first ring of suburbs, by then densely populated and linked on all levels but the administrative one, to the city of Brussels. Furthermore, the main neighborhood that contemporaries clearly identified as Italian was located around the North Railway Station in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode and a few streets that spilled into Schaerbeek (see Chapter 2). Therefore, I pay attention, in various manners and depending on the sources, to the Italian presence and food businesses spread over a territory referred to as Brussels and understood as the conurbation formed by the city and its nine, immediately surrounding communes.58 ← 27 | 28 →

I have decided to concentrate on the period that runs from 1876 to 1914, because Brussels then witnessed a booming financial era and large-scale urban transformation that attracted an increasing number of modest migrants and wealthy citizens.59 This increase of capital inflow in turn stimulated the growth of the service sector that provided entertainment to urban dwellers.60 The conurbation saw the flourishing of cafés, restaurants, hotels, and theatres, as the city hosted the country’s fiftieth anniversary of Independence in 1880, and World’s Fairs in 1888, 1897, and in 1910.61 These events attracted many Italians as participants, visitors, or workers. Finally, in terms of Italian migration, these four decades marked the first period of recorded massive migration that started in 1876 and ended with the beginning of World War I in 1915 in Italy and in 1914 in Belgium. With the start of the war, Italian migration marked a pause.

This chapter (Chapter One) presents a critical review of the historical writing that has guided my research with the aim of clarifying useful concepts and singling out pertinent approaches. This then allows me to formulate four sets of questions and discuss the manner in which I have engaged with the sources in order to answer them. Chapter Two presents the historical background of this study and relates Brussels to its foreigners. In it, I also provide a descriptive statistical survey of the make-up of the Italian population in the city of Brussels and Saint-Josse-ten-Noode. Chapter Three locates and categorizes Italian food businesses. Here I map the enterprises, distinguish types, and analyze names and products for sale. In Chapter Four, I concentrate on the actors involved. Descriptive statistical analyses of Italian food entrepreneurs and employees are presented and representative itineraries narrated. After three chapters that include extensive quantitative material, Chapter Five provides a qualitative analysis of the creation of meanings through the adaptation of Italian food, businesses, and commercial practices and the construction of Italianness in Brussels. Finally, Chapter Six concludes the study by discussing the innovative forces and creative powers of migrants.

1.2.   Historiography

Historians dealing with human mobility have recognized migration as a fundamental and structural process of behavior and societies throughout ← 28 | 29 → history.62 They have searched for ever-more integrative approaches, shifting between specific and comparative cases in order to uncover patterns and provide overarching explanations.63 In doing so, they strived to move beyond the fragmented nature of the field and secure the recognition of migration processes within general historical accounts.64

A central concern of these scholars has been defining the object of study, or what exactly is meant by human migration. Once understood in terms of emigration from one place and immigration to another, referring instead to migration highlights the versatile nature of mobility and its multiple complexities.65 Historians have in turn seen it as “a change of residence beyond communal boundaries,”66 “a social process,”67 or a move “within and among communities.”68 From travel to settlement, human migration thus includes a broad spectrum of temporal and geographical movements. It is studied from various perspectives that combine macro-, meso-, and micro-levels in order to grasp the relationships between the people and their place(s) of origin, movement(s), stopover(s), and place(s) of arrival.69

Many studies have focused on a specific ethnic group70 and dealt with how acculturation unravels at destination.71 Historians and social scientists in general refer to acculturation to describe a two-way process of ← 29 | 30 → socio-cultural change that occurs between migrants and hosts on collective and individual levels. Over time, different types of pressure to socialize bring about different ways of acculturating that in turn lead to different adaptation outcomes. Moreover, acculturation involves constant negotiation between the socialization demands of the new place and the acquired habits of the former one. For migrants, a determining step is generally taken through economic insertion via ethnic networks into a segmented part of the labor market. Within the host society, learning its customs and language is a central demand exerted on the newly arrived. In order to evaluate acculturation then, one must consider the migrants’ human and social capital (e.g. age, gender, language, skills, family ties, socio-economics, and networks) on the one hand and, on the other, the host society’s essential characteristics (e.g. the labor market, degree of broadmindedness, language, political system, and legal constraints).72

As mentioned above, a fruitful and rewarding way of studying migration and acculturation in the past is through a focus on foodways. Already in 1983, the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery gathered historians to exchange ideas about “the migration of foodstuffs and cookery techniques.”73 Many of the papers presented then still lie at the heart of current research trends: surveys and biographies of specific ingredients and dishes, studies of the influence of food and culinary cultures on each other, and analyses of migrant foodways. As will be discussed below, food and migration historians have underlined that eating habits are influenced by the preservation of familiarity and the quest for novelty and have searched for the permanent and temporary elements that make up food habits. Because of migrants’ inherent and acute mobility, they provide a quasi-ideal case to observe the many permutations and resilient features of foodways.74 In studying these aspects, historians have focused on the construction of food-related identities and tackled both sides of the acculturation process: how migrants were altered by and how they modified the new society.75 ← 30 | 31 →

Moreover, these approaches have fuelled two ongoing debates among historians of food and migration. The first is part of a larger historical debate that addresses the nature of change over time and place. It questions the homogeneity of foodways, the forces and processes that alter them, if at all, the results of these changes, their expressions, and meanings in context. The second debate tackles the role and diffusion of foodways in a multicultural and heterogeneous society.76 It discusses whether the spread of foreign, non-native foods promotes an open-minded, peaceful, and tolerant society, or if it is a society’s characteristics that allow for the development of these non-native foods. At the core of these debates lies the slippery and somewhat monolithic notion of cultures considered as separate and coherent entities with their own, distinct foodways. In grappling with these debates that are presented below, I will instead argue in favor of a more fluid understanding, one where boundaries are not clear-cut and where gradual evolution expresses ongoing change. Therefore, I will chronologically follow and present these debates first in the general literature on food and migration and then in the works that deal specifically with my topic, while highlighting pertinent trends and focusing on specific features that support my research.

Because, more than any other country, it has defined itself as a nation of immigrants, historical studies of food and migration have tended to focus on the United States. In his seminal study of the tense relations between Italian migrants, their food, and American society between 1880 and 1930, Harvey Levenstein argues that Italians made up the first migrant group to successfully resist pressure to adapt their foodways because of the central role food played in Italian families and communities.Italian food was able to retain its distinctiveness while adapting to a new environment and was eventually incorporated into American foodways as, for example, spaghetti and meatballs. Levenstein demonstrates the importance of food as a source of “ethnic pride” and identity for migrants who, by attempting to recreate dishes from their previous home, actually created a “hybrid, arising from interactions among cross-cultural influences.”77

Following in his tracks, Hasia Diner arrives at a similar conclusion through a comparative approach to Irish, Italian, and Jewish foodways between 1880 and 1920. By comparing these migrants’ situations in their countries of origin with the ones at destination, she sets food at the center ← 31 | 32 → of their decision to migrate: experiences of food shortages and the fear of hunger threw them on the road, images and stories of bountiful food attracted them to America. She further contends that the mingling of memories of food deprivation with the actualities of American food abundance lay at the heart of the “ethnic identities” they constructed around food. By attempting to recreate customary foods, migrants aimed to revive the foodways of their original country, but instead created something different and new while transcending the social distinctions that had once constrained them. Throughout, Diner insists on the active participation of the migrants who “shaped the creation of new practices that in turn became traditional,” thus highlighting the process by which customs are (re)created.78

Looking at acculturation in a multicultural society, Donna Gabaccia investigates the formation and evolution of American foodways and identities through the prism of migration, (ethnic) food production, and the marketing of food since the seventeenth century. She finds a “culinary melting pot” that produces a diversity of American multi-ethnic foodways, which embody successful multiculturalism. Whereas other types of cross-cultural exchanges have proven controversial and even violent, those involving the culinary sphere have tended to be peaceful. According to her, the reasons for this lie not only in the search for the pleasures tied to food in an abundant society, but in the commercial nature of these exchanges and the “impersonal rules of the marketplace [that] help ease fears of cultural difference.” Gabaccia underlines the peaceful cultural and economic interactions through which foodways express and resolve multicultural demands.79

After the United States, Britain and its former colonial empire have more recently attracted the attention of food and migration historians. Groundbreaking in this regard, Anne Kershen’s collected volume deals with “food in the migrant experience” from the combined perspectives of history, entrepreneurship, and health. In her introduction she claims that it is not only hunger and the search for food that stimulates migration, but also the “perceived economic opportunity” offered by food import-export or catering businesses. While she acknowledges the multiple roles played by food in the construction of people’s identity, culture, and religion, she recognizes that it can be used either to smooth cultural interactions (through homogenization or “fusion”) or to discriminate along the lines ← 32 | 33 → of race, class, gender, and ethnicity. In a multicultural society, she questions ethnic food’s ability to change “self-identity” when eaten by the hosts, but insists that it is essential to the “external identification process” of how the receiving society sees and categorizes migrants.80

Taking an approach comparable to Gabaccia’s and building upon Kershen’s, Panikos Panayi looks at how migration – along with the overall rising wealth of the population and globalization – has transformed British food and eating patterns since the middle of the nineteenth century. Through international trade and the influence of its colonies, he argues that migrants, big businesses, and new marketing strategies have ultimately commoditized an “ethnic and international identity” for food in Britain. Much like the identities of migrants were transformed and domesticated on their way over, so migrants turned British food into a hybrid. He shows how food became increasingly defined as British in reaction to foreign after 1945, and how it acquired nationalities. Overall, migrants radically altered the food eaten at home and the places to eat out. For Panayi then, it is precisely by studying food that we can assess the impact of migrants on a society: “they have multiculturalized Britain.”81

Similarly, Maren Möhring focuses on the practices and discourses surrounding ethnic food and cooking both at home and in restaurants in postwar West Germany, and what impact this has had on society and consumption patterns. She considers Italian cuisine82 as a “door-opener” for other foreign foods and cuisines that increasingly appeared, following a rise in migration and internationalization. The ethnic (non-German) restaurant provides the site for an “ethnic performance” to take place between space, staff, food, and customers, much like a theater performance with front- and back-stages and an audience. Producing and consuming ethnic food thus takes on transnational and political meanings. Möhring finds that ethnic restaurants expressed on the one hand peaceful multiculturalism and on the other revived racialist tendencies, both trends inherent to postwar West German society.83 ← 33 | 34 →

Though foodways are acknowledged in general works on Italian migration84 and migration is acknowledged in works on Italian foodways,85 the themes I have just underlined are explored in more depth in specific historical studies. Here too, much has been written on the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, while recent studies mainly address British and German societies. A common approach has been to analyze what happens to Italian migrants’ foodways when confronted with the host society. Research has shown that dietary alterations were more marked in America than Europe due to the influence of various socio-cultural and geographic factors.86 Because many consider migrant experiences as fundamentally determined by the interplay between custom and innovation, Italian migrant foodways are seen as the result of the negotiation between a desire to preserve and a need to transform.87 Though many have highlighted the resilience on the part of Italian migrants to dietary change,88 “cultural conservatism” or the retaining of original cultural specificities is only possible while the migrant group remains isolated.89 The exchanges that eventually take place thus lead to the construction of a new and complex set of foodways: through “culinary invention,”90 “creolizzazione,”91 ← 34 | 35 → or “sincretismo,”92 a “fusion,”93 “hybrid,”94 or “collage”95 rooted in the past but molded by the present emerges.

A second important trend considers food as a strong marker of italianità.96 It builds upon the work of historians who argue that food is central to the cultural exchanges that determine the dynamic and dialectical process of identity construction.97 It was in the host societies that the stereotype of Italians as pasta-eaters appeared as pasta became fundamental to the migrants’ sense of Italianness.98 For Italian migrants then food was invested with high symbolic meaning and social aspirations that fostered and maintained feelings of communal, ethnic, and family belonging both from inside and outside.99 By daily preparing and consuming foods such as pasta and meat once reserved for festivities and the elites in Italy, migrants not only reversed social distinctions, but also became what they imagined Italians should be.100 They mingled often for the first time with Italians coming from different parts of the country and (re)created a sense of what it meant to be and to eat Italian.101 As the geographical Italian entity faded, its reality imposed itself with ever more poignancy through the ← 35 | 36 → articulation of italianità.102 While food in Italy was to all purposes Italian, it became identified as Italian outside of Italy103 where Italian restaurants tended to offer a mix of regional Italian staples and indigenous foods of the host society.104

A third approach looks at how migrants and Italians have impacted each other’s foodways. Though the debate about the existence of national cuisines continues,105 Italian cuisine seems to exist only outside of Italy: inside the country no national cuisine and few nationally-labeled dishes exist, but rather one finds a loose association between regional and urban ingredients, products, and dishes.106 Outside of Italy, these local and regional variances in foodways eventually merged into “uno stile italiano” through the influence of domestic habits, catering businesses, and food retailers.107 Although in Italy Pellegrino Artusi’s (1820–1911) 1891 cookbook La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene promoted a “regionale-nazionale” model that codified Italian cuisine and attempted to unite Italians gastronomically,108 the first effective push for the homogenization of the Italian diet came from Italy’s migrant colonies. As the vast amount of migrants provided Italian industries with a worldwide external market, the high demand for Italian food products such as pasta, olive oil, wine, cheese, and canned tomatoes stimulated Italian mass production and eventually altered the diet of many Italians.109 The diffusion and popularity of these foodstuffs among Italians was caused by cheaper prices and the hype created by (returning) migrants, and transformed them into staples of the Italian diet.110 At the same time, the lot of many Italians improved thanks to the remittances and goods sent back by migrant family members, which allowed many in turn to expand their dietary horizons.111 ← 36 | 37 →

The final area of research focuses on migrant involvement in food businesses. On the whole, Italian migrants took a large interest in the food and catering enterprises of the places they migrated to either as staff or entrepreneurs.112 They were highly represented among the personnel of upper-class cosmopolitan cafés, restaurants, and hotels dominated by French gastronomic codes and tastes.113 Italian restaurants, cafés, grocery stores, pushcarts, and specialized food shops operated by Italian migrants made a form of dietary continuity possible and provided meeting places where migrants and/or hosts socialized.114 These places often served as reference points for newly arrived migrants and either strengthened cultural conservatism or eased cross-cultural exchanges.115 In cities with vast numbers of Italian migrants like New York, Gabaccia noted that Italian ethnicity played itself out in the food and catering industries in three ways: in “ethnic ‘enclave’ markets,” all levels of the food chain from production to distribution and consumption involved migrants; in restaurants, “ethnic ‘cross-overs’” took place where food, staff, and experience were Italian but not the customers; and in the streets and shops, fruit and vegetable produce were sold by migrants under no ethnic label at all.116 In general, ethnic entrepreneurs at first catered to the niche market created by their community’s specific needs until, either the unpredictability of the enclave market or the low prices and exoticism that attracted members of the host society, convinced them to broaden their appeal.117 Thus, the successful commercialization and construction of the food sold as Italian evolved with its customers from an emphasis on Italian-regional characteristics to the many meanings included under Italian genuineness, authenticity, and lifestyle.118 ← 37 | 38 →

In the case of Belgium, historians have explored Italian migration and relations between Italy and Belgium in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries mainly from socio-economic and political perspectives, though religious and cultural aspects have been addressed too.119 Among these, Florence Stas’s study of Italian shopkeepers, artisans, and peddlers in the city of Brussels between 1892 and 1929 provided a starting-point for the present study.120 Dealing exclusively with one source and two ten-year samples, she provided the first preliminary analysis of the professional and demographic aspects of Italian migrants in the capital and highlighted the importance of food businesses and the need to investigate them in other sources. However, deeper socio-cultural considerations of Italian migration such as those that deal specifically with the nexus of relationships between Italian food and migrants in Belgium have received comparatively little historical attention. Though Inge Mestdag explores the influence of Italian cuisine on Flemish home cooking and Gaëlle Van Ingelgem surveys Italian restaurants in postwar Brussels, only Leen Beyers focuses on the relations between food and Italian migrants.121 In her study of postwar Italian migrants who came from Atina and settled in Tubize, Beyers finds that their experiences ← 38 | 39 → were shaped by “at least four contexts: the regional Italian, the national Italian, the Belgian, and the global” ones and that their “culinary styles [...] were as much the product of conformity, as the result of resistance, to given cultural models.”122 Indeed, these migrants’ foodways reflected Belgian pressures to adapt, the Northern Italian tastes of most migrants, the evolution of an international Italian cuisine, and the (re)creation of culinary practices linked to Italy.123

1.3.   Questions

Based on these debates and discussions, specific themes and questions linked to the public aspects of Italian food businesses emerged. In order to deal with them, I constructed four sets of questions addressed in this study.

The first set of questions concerns issues of change and continuity. Can we talk of Italian-Belgian or Italian-Brussels foodways? Did Italian migrants develop foodways specific to their Brussels experiences? In other words, how did Italian food businesses reflect acculturation in the public sphere? This entails looking at the dishes, ingredients, products, and produce sold by migrants in their businesses and how they relate to the culinary specificities not only of Brussels and Belgium, but also of Italy.

The second set focuses on the construction of identities through food. What types of italianità did Italian food businesses construct in Brussels? How was Italian food commercialized in Brussels and what was meant by Italian? To answer these questions I focus on external markers of identity such as the names of the places and the language used in their advertisements. This allows me to analyze self-representations of Italians, the role that place played in the promotion of Italian food, and the extent of the community’s cohesion.

The third set discusses the commercial uses and functions of food. How important were food businesses among Italians and foreigners in Brussels? Did Italians set a trend towards the acceptance and spread of foreign food in Brussels? Here, I look at the biographical and socio-economic dynamics of the Italian community in Brussels and assess the role played by the culinary in cross-cultural exchanges.

The fourth set develops international considerations and global flows. How did Italians in Brussels influence the global construction of Italian food from outside Italy? How does the Brussels case relate to other cities to which Italians migrated? Here, I look at the relationship between Italian ← 39 | 40 → food in Brussels, in Italy, and in the world, and consider the influence migrants exert on the creation of national foodways. I also consider the impact of French gastronomic codes and the relationship between Italian and French food. By doing this, I point out the specificities of the Brussels case within the broader experience of Italian migration in New York City, London, and Paris.

Moreover, by answering these questions, my study contributes to the debates previously mentioned about the relationships between food, migration, and change. I analyze migrants’ foodways and the places of food consumption they established in order to understand the impact of place on human mobility, historical change, and the construction of meaning. In order to achieve this, I have chosen to focus exclusively on how migrants established food enterprises, how they (re)presented themselves in a capitalist urban setting, and how they adapted to their environment. I am thus not concerned with Belgian attitudes towards these migrants and their foodways, which would undoubtedly be a fascinating research topic but one that warrants a study of its own.

By dealing with the multidimensional aspects of places of food consumption, my approach intersects economic, social, and cultural matters that lie at the heart of migrants’ experiences.124 Indeed, trade and commerce are one of the oldest means by which people from different places come into contact and socialize.125 As anthropologist and historian Sidney Mintz has remarked about changing food habits, “we do not understand these processes at all well, even though they are of immense importance to the world’s future,”126 especially as humans and climate change modify global food supplies.127 This will undoubtedly have repercussions on patterns of migration and the ways in which individuals and societies will interact to accommodate them. I wish to contribute to these discussions by focusing on how migrants and their food businesses fared in a bustling capitalist European city at the turn of the twentieth century and how, as entrepreneurs and innovators, they expressed the dynamic dialogue between custom and innovation.

1.4.   Sources

In order to answer these questions, I have selected a wide-ranging and consistent set of written sources, whereas I found visual material such as ← 40 | 41 → photographs, postcards, architectural plans, films, and packaging lacking.128 Because I dealt with different types of records in varying quantitative and qualitative manners, I developed and applied an organizational and interpretative approach specific to each source according to the questions asked. Thus, I cannot present an overarching methodology. I would nevertheless describe my overall approach as applying techniques associated with bricolage or mixed methods.129 The former consists in “the process of employing […] methodological strategies as they are needed in the unfolding context of the research situation”130 and broadly advocates the use of “multiple methods.”131 The second has been defined in a slightly more narrow fashion as “research in which the investigator collects and analyzes data, integrates the findings, and draws inferences using both qualitative and quantitative approaches or methods in a single study or program of inquiry.”132

Thus, while bricolage calls for the use of methods best capable of delivering a plausible answer, mixed methods insists on a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. Starting off with a bricoleur mindset, I ultimately applied qualitative and quantitative methods to my research project. Moreover, these techniques imply the creative evaluation and selection of the most adapted method to deal with each source and answer the research questions in the most persuasive fashion on a case-by-case analysis.133 This allows for greater flexibility in research and mirrors the pragmatic trial-and-error evolution of the process. Furthermore, these techniques are based on and value exchange, difference, and adaptation,134 which are also three fundamental themes addressed throughout this study. I will therefore deal with methods as the study unfolds.

Overall, I have approached each set of primary sources with the aim of organizing the data so as to answer my research questions by compiling a list in the form of an Excel spreadsheet that summarizes all Italian food ← 41 | 42 → businesses and their details. Maps, tables, and graphs were then drawn to organize and highlight specific dimensions of the findings.

After patient investigation, I settled on five sets of primary sources. The largest set is made up of the commune of Brussels’s police archives covering the Bureau des étrangers (i.e. the Foreigners’ Office) from the late 1870s until 1914 – though only the post-1891 files are complete enough to be used systematically. As a branch of the Sûreté publique (i.e. literally Public Safety) – the national state agency concerned with the management of public order, prisons, surveillance, and foreigners on Belgian soil – the Bureau des étrangers dealt with the interactions between the state and foreigners on a municipal level. Because of the disappearance of border controls in Europe after 1861,135 it often provided a first official point of entry and contact. Foreigners wishing to reside in Brussels for any length of time were required to sign up with the municipal authorities who added them to the population registers, which had listed the biographical information and movements of citizens in Belgium since 1791.136 At the same time, foreigners were requested to go to their local police station and register with the Foreigners’ Office that then checked their background and authorized or denied resident status.137 A copy of the information it gathered was then transmitted to the Sûreté publique.138

Designed to provide objective information that could be categorized and used by the authorities to control foreigners, these files provide a wealth of information about migrants, as well as how the state and police considered foreigners. As opposed to the static picture of a specific moment in time offered by official population censuses, these files better illustrate the mobile nature of migration and provide more accurate numbers than official Italian statistics that record passport applications, permits to emigrate, and declared destinations.139 Each file was opened in the name of an individual or the head of a household and a number was ← 42 | 43 → printed on the top left-hand corner, based on the chronological order of registration. Once the whole process was completed, references to the population registers were added in the top right-hand corner. From top to bottom, each cover contained the last and first names of all the members of the household, the place, country, and date of birth of the whole household, nationality (systematically after 1895), the civil status, the place and date of marriage (if applicable), the first and last names and date and place of birth of the household head’s father and mother, the legal foreign address, the last foreign place of residence, the date of arrival in Belgium, the previous places of residence in the country, the date of arrival in the commune of Brussels, the current address in Brussels, the profession, the official documents presented in support of the claimed identity, the requested length of stay, the foreigner’s signature, the date of the foreigner’s signature, and the signature of the police inspector. The second page dealt with address changes and the third page with judicial sentences and fines. This last page also provided a brief physical description based on the height, hair and eyebrow color, size of mouth (small, medium, large), type of forehead (high or low), color of eyes, size of nose, shape of chin, shape of face (oval, round, or square), color of beard and mustache, and finally any distinctively recognizable sign such as glasses, a missing limb or the shade of the skin. The content of each file varies greatly: some have nothing but a name and birth information, others a few notes on address changes, profession, rent, and means of existence, while those of people under surveillance for suspicious activities (e.g. prostitution, gambling, crime, or political activism) are thick and complete with surveillance reports, extensive police correspondence, and newspaper clippings.

I have dealt with this source in two ways. First, in order to compile a basic survey of the make up of the Italian community in Brussels I have entered in an Excel spreadsheet all the information found on the front cover as well as the physical description. Each piece of information was divided into manageable parts organized into individual columns.140 I then organized this set of data into categories, which I analyzed in order to describe the demographical background, socio-economic composition, and migratory patterns of Italian migrants in the city of Brussels at the time.141 This not only provides the fundamental canvas against which the rest of my study is painted, but also the characteristics of the Italians working in the food business. Second, I selected and photographed each file relating ← 43 | 44 → to an Italian person142 and all relevant documents it contained. I did this for two reasons. One was that the sheer vastness of this source made any going back on my tracks time-consuming. The pictures thus allowed me to go back to the original document and pick up the trail if needed later. Out of the roughly one hundred thousand files through which I sifted, a bit more than two thousand five hundred (or around 2.5 percent) dealt with Italians. Another reason was that these documents provided me with information that, if desired or if a new question arose, could be related later to food businesses. Finally, the last column of my Excel spreadsheet was reserved for my own observations, in which I summarized unique information that did not fit in the other columns and the quotes most pertinent to my endeavor contained in police reports.

Besides living in the commune of Brussels where they were well represented throughout, Italians also resided in a few streets that surrounded the North Railway Station in the communes of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode and Schaerbeek. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the municipal archives in Schaerbeek in 1911 and with it most official information about its foreigners before this date.143 This, however, was not the case in Saint-Josse-ten Noode where I was able to consult the Registres des étrangers (i.e. the Foreigners’ Registers) from 1876 to 1914. The thirteen volumes cover around 42,000 entries with just under 1,800 (or 4.3 percent) concerning Italians. The aim of these registers was to provide information regarding the arrival and departure of foreigners. One line per entry is broken down into columns from left to right and provides the person’s registration number, the last and first names of the head of the household, the last and first names of eventual family members, the profession, the date and place of birth, the date of arrival in the commune, the date of departure from the commune, the place he or she came from, the place he or she went to, the date of notification, and any significant observations. These registers are not always easy to follow and addresses in the commune can be found in different columns. I have followed the columns provided by the registers and divided up the information given into similar columns of an Excel spreadsheet. As nationality was not mentioned in these registers, Italians were selected based on both an Italian-sounding family name and an Italian place of birth. The aim here was also to compile a descriptive ← 44 | 45 → statistical survey of the Italian population in the one place contemporaries clearly identified as an Italian neighborhood (see Chapter 2).

The third type of source I consulted dealt with the city of Brussels’s police archives concerning requests made in view of opening a débit de boissons. Literally a place that served drinks, a bar or a café, a débit often offered some sort of food too. Actually, any person wishing to open a food and/or drink business was required to get the official permission from the commune’s burgomaster. Hence, one wrote a letter stating one’s business and what one planned to sell, often asking if one could also paint a name and a small ad on the front window. The police then opened a file, investigated the applicant’s background (e.g. identity, address, reputation, or juridical past), and made sure the place complied with health and safety regulations. If one passed all these tests – and applicants generally did – one received a letter granting permission and a license number. The municipal archives have preserved these files in about sixty boxes for the period from 1877 to 1896, from which I identified around forty files dealing with Italians. They provided me with valuable information on the location, the goods for sale, and the description of the place as well as the background of the applicant. For each one, I wrote down the descriptions and details about the people and the businesses in order to complete the list of businesses and the knowledge I already had.

Essential to the mapping of food businesses, the study of Brussels’s commercial and industrial directories (i.e. the Almanachs/Annuaires du commerce et de l’industrie de Bruxelles et des communes limitrophes) published annually proved rewarding. Though missing a few years (1876–77, 1879, 1884, 1886, and 1889), this source is available on-line via the website of the City of Brussels’s Archives ( This provided me with easy access and enabled me to cover the period between 1878 and 1914 in the commune of Brussels and its nine neighboring communes (i.e. Anderlecht, Etterbeek, Ixelles, Koekelberg, Laeken, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Saint-Gilles, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, and Schaerbeek). I went through each edition focusing on the categories that advertised food and drink businesses and recorded the names, addresses, and activities of people with Italian-sounding names. I set up another Excel spreadsheet in which I entered for each year and each category the names of the owners/managers, addresses, and names of these food businesses. The products sold were either described in the directory’s category or entry. I photographed and transcribed any additional advertisement insert. I then organized this spreadsheet in order to help me answer quantitative (e.g. numbers, locations, and length of time in operation) and qualitative (e.g. names, types of activity, and products sold) questions linked to these businesses. ← 45 | 46 →

Finally, my study draws precious information from the six Italian newspapers published in Brussels and aimed at Italian migrants who could read and Belgian readers interested in Italian interests and commerce. Written in a mixture of French and Italian, they include the Bolletino mensile della camera di commercio italiana nel Belgio (one issue in 1912), La Revue italo-belge (four issues dated 1913–1914), L’Eco d’Italia (two issues in 1908), La Verità (three issues in 1901), La Voce d’Italia (eight issues from 1908 to 1910), and La Voce d’Italia Illustrata (three issues in 1911). These newspapers have, first and foremost, provided me with commercial advertisements found in the last pages and often for food businesses held by Italians. From them I have identified names, locations, and types of activities. On another level, these newspapers offer essential insights into the daily workings of the official Italian colony in Brussels as they mirror the interests of the most wealthy and prominent members who managed the three Italian institutions: the Chamber of Commerce, the Mutual Aid Society, and the Benevolent Society (see Chapter 2). They are a fundamental source in order to understand how some segments of the Italian population in Brussels perceived and (re)presented themselves, and how they commercially constructed identities through food advertisements.

Because I exclusively focus on the Italians’ self-representation, I do not deal with Belgian attitudes towards and representations of Italians and their food businesses. I have thus not systematically considered Belgian sources such as cookbooks or newspapers. This decision has unfortunately precluded an analysis of, for example, Italian advertisements published in Belgian newspapers aimed exclusively at Belgian audiences. These paths of research would, of course, be fascinating and worthwhile endeavors to complement the present study. ← 46 | 47 →

1       “A peculiar and picturesque scene, rue Royale, Friday evening, as the numerous Italian men and women who live and work as models, street musicians or figure-makers in Schaerbeek were on their way to Saint-Mary’s Church. At this time of the year, they traditionally bring chandeliers and other gifts of relative value with great ceremony to the Madonna. Like each year, this procession attracted a considerable gathering of people curious to see the multicolored costumes so well suited to the sometimes handsome types that make up this colony, which has managed to remain pure of any foreign influence.” “Petite Gazette,” Le Soir, 27 May 1888, 1. Le Soir was distributed for free in and around Brussels. In 1888, it had a circulation of 70,000 copies and in 1890 – when the census estimated the overall population of the Brussels metropolitan area at just over 500,000 people – 90,000 [Villes de Bruxelles, Les recensements de 1910 (Brussels: Guyot, 1912), 21].

2       Piero Bevilacqua, Andreina De Clementi, and Emilio Franzina (eds.), Storia dell’emigrazione italiana. II. Arrivi (Rome: Donzelli, 2009).

3       For example: Robert Orsi, The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880–1950 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).

4       Donna Gabaccia, Italy’s Many Diasporas (London: University College London Press, 2000).

5       Giuliano Procacci, History of the Italian People (London: Penguin, 1991), 341–344.

6       Luigi Favero and Graziano Tassello, “Cent’anni di emigrazione italiana (1876–1976),” in Gianfausto Rosoli (ed.), Un secolo di emigrazione italiana 1876–1976 (Rome: Centro Studi Emigrazione, 1978), 11–30.

7       Favero and Tassello, “Cent’anni di emigrazione,” 11–30.

8       Mark Choate, Emigrant Nation. The Making of Italy Abroad (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008).

9       Gabaccia, Italy’s Many Diasporas, 35–57; Fabio Parasecoli, “Food, Identity, and Cultural Reproduction in Immigrant Communities,” Social Research 81.2 (2014): 421.

10     Carla De Tona, “The ‘Conspicuous Visibility’ of Italianness and the ‘Invisibility’ of Italian Migrants in Ireland: A Sociological Analysis of a ‘Regime of Representation’,” Altreitalie (2005): 24–27; Parasecoli, “Food, Identity, and Cultural Reproduction,” 421.

11     The work of reference is: Giulio Bollati, L’italiano: Il carattere nazionale come storia e come invenzione (Turin: Einaudi, 1983). For an overview of the debate since its origins, see: Silvana Patriarca, Italianità. La costruzione del carattere nazionale (Rome: Laterza, 2010), vii–xxiii. See also: Silvana Patriarca, “National Identity or National Character? New Vocabularies and Old Paradigms,” in Albert Ascoli and Krystyna von Henneberg (eds.), Making and Remaking Italy: The Cultivation of National Identity around the Risorgimento (Oxford: Berg, 2001), 299.

12     Choate, Emigrant Nation, 1–3.

13     Matteo Sanfilippo, “Nationalisme, ‘italianité’, et émigration aux Amériques (1830–1990),” Revue européenne d’Histoire 2.2 (1995): 178–179.

14     Sanfilippo, “Nationalisme,” 185.

15     Ernesto Galli della Loggia, L’identità italiana (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1998), 20, 161–163.

16     Anne Morelli, “Les émigrés italiens vus par la presse belge de 1922 à 1945,” in Jean Pirotte (ed.), Stéréotypes nationaux et préjugés raciaux aux XIXe et XXe siècles (Louvain-la-Neuve: Nauwelaerts, 1982), 43–4.

17     Jean Stengers, Emigration et immigration en Belgique au XIXe et au XXe siècle (Brussels: Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-Mer, 1978), 73–75.

18     Michel Dumoulin, “Hommes et cultures dans les relations Italo-Belges, 1861–1915,” Bulletin de l’Institut historique belge de Rome LII (1982): 351–377.

19     Gita Deneckere, “Les turbulences de la Belle Epoque, 1878–1905,” in Els Witte, Eliane Gubin, Jean-Pierre Nandrin, and Gita Deneckere (eds.), Nouvelle Histoire de Belgique. Volume 1: 1830–1905 (Brussels: Editions Complexe, 2005), 7–30; Serge Jaumain, Les petits commerçants belges face à la modernité (1880–1914) (Brussels: Editions de l’Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1995), 35–37.

20     Nicholas Ostler, Empires of the World: A Language History of the World (London: Harper Perennial, 2006), 411.

21     These aspects are described in more detail in Chapter 2.

22     Michel Dumoulin, Hommes d’affaires et financiers italiens en Belgique de l’Unité (1861) à 1925 (Brussels & Louvain-la-Neuve: SYBIDI & Academia, 1989), 13–14; Dumoulin, Hommes et cultures, 357–361; Anne Morelli, Gli Italiani del Belgio. Storia e storie di due secoli di migrazioni (Foligno: Editoriale Umbra, 2004), 17–18; Anne Morelli, “L’immigration italienne en Belgique aux XIXe et XXe siècles,” in Anne Morelli (ed.), Histoire des étrangers et de l’immigration en Belgique de la préhistoire à nos jours (Brussels: Couleurs Livres, 2004), 202–203.

23     Morelli, “L’immigration italienne,” 203.

24     “Foodways” refer to all the “behaviors and beliefs surrounding the production, distribution, and consumption of food” [Carole Counihan, The Anthropology of Food and Body: Gender, Meaning, and Power (New York & London: Routledge, 1999), 6]. Although a synonym of “food culture,” I prefer the term “foodways” because it insists more – in my eyes – on the multiple and practical ways in which we interact with food. [For a discussion of food culture as a more comprehensive term than foodways, see: Ken Albala, Three World Cuisines: Italian, Mexican, and Chinese (Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2012), 7].

25     See for example: Counihan, The Anthropology of Food, 6; Sylvia Ferrero, “Comida Sin Par. Consumption of Mexican Food in Los Angeles: ‘Foodscapes’ in a Transnational Consumer Society,” in Warren Belasco and Philip Scranton (eds.), Food Nations (New York & London: Routledge, 2002), 194–219; Claude Fischler, L’homnivore (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2001).

26     For specific discussions on the construction of identity and identification, see: Stuart Hall, “Introduction: Who Needs ‘Identity’,” in Stuart Hall and Paul du Gay (eds.), Questions of Cultural Identity (London: Sage, 1996), 1–5; Richard Jenkins, Social Identity (London: Routledge, 2008), 1–27.

27     Claude Fischler, “Food, Self, and Identity,” Social Science Information 27.2 (1988): 275–292.

28     Manuel Calvo, “Migration et alimentation,” Information sur les sciences sociales 21.3 (1982): 383–446.

29     Chantal Crenn, Jean-Pierre Hassoun, and François-Xavier Medina, “Introduction: Repenser et réimaginer l’acte alimentaire en situations de migration,” Anthropology of Food 7 (2010), Accessed 23 April 2013,

30     Parasecoli, “Food, Identity, and Cultural Reproduction,” 415–439.

31     Erving Goffman, The presentation of Self in Everyday Life (New York: Anchor Books, 1959), 1–16.

32     Mike Crang, “Spaces in Theory, Spaces in History, and Spatial Historiographies,” in Beat Kümin (ed.), Political Space in Pre-Industrial Europe (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009), 249–266; Henri Lefebvre, La production de l’espace (Paris: Anthropos, 2000); Martina Löw, “The Social Construction of Space and Gender,” European Journal of Women’s Studies 13.2 (2006): 119–121; Doreen Massey, “Places and Their Pasts,” History Workshop Journal 39 (1995): 186.

33     John Agnew, “Space: Place,” in Paul Cloke and Ron Johnston (eds.), Spaces of Geographical Thought. Deconstructing Human Geography’s Binaries (London: Sage, 2005), 90.

34     Karen Till, “Emplacing Memory Through the City: The New Berlin,” German Historical Institute Bulletin 35 (2004): 75.

35     Ian Cook and Philip Crang, “The World On a Plate: Culinary Culture, Displacement, and Geographical Knowledge,” Journal of Material Culture 1 (1996): 138.

36     Parasecoli, “Food, Identity, and Cultural Reproduction,” 416.

37     Jean-Pierre Poulain, Sociologies de l’alimentation (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2002), 221–224.

38     Josée Johnston and Shyon Baumann, Foodies: Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Foodscape (New York & London: Routledge, 2010), 3.

39     The term “foodscape” is derived from anthropologist Arjun Appadurai’s use of the -scape suffix to describe “deeply perspectival constructs” in order to analyze contemporary global cultural flows [Arjun Appadurai, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy,” Theory Culture & Society 7 (1990): 296.] For a survey of the “foodscape” usages, see: Bent Egberg Mikkelsen, “Images of Foodscapes: Introduction to Foodscape Studies and their Application,” Perspectives in Public Health 131.5 (2011): 209–2016. Studying these aspects has also been advocated more recently by food historians, see: Marc Forster and Maren Möhring, “Introduction: Public Eating, Public Drinking,” Food & History 7.2 (2009): 1–3.

40     Marc Jacobs and Peter Scholliers, “Vaut ou ne vaut pas le détour: Conviviality, Custom(er)s, and Public Places of New Taste since the Late Eighteenth Century,” in Marc Jacobs and Peter Scholliers (eds.), Eating Out in Europe: Picnics, Gourmet Dining and Snacks Since the Late Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Berg, 2003), 9–11.

41     “Transnational” refers to “transnationalism” i.e. “sustained cross-border relationships, patterns of exchange, affiliations, and social formations spanning nation-states” [Steven Vertovec, Transnationalism (London: Routledge, 2009), 2].

42     Gillian Crowther, Eating Culture. An Anthropological Guide to Food (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013), xxv, 192–193, 278–279.

43     Ralph Kingston, “Mind Over Matter? History and the Spatial Turn,” Cultural and Social History 7.1 (2010): 111–121; Angelo Torre, “Un ‘tournant spatial’ en histoire? Paysages, regards, ressources,” Annales HSS 5 (2008): 1127–1144; Charles Withers, “Place and ‘The Spatial Turn’ in Geography and in History,” Journal of the History of Ideas 70.4 (2009): 637–658.

44     Peter Burke, What Is Cultural History? (Cambridge: Polity, 2008), 3; Roger Chartier, Cultural History. Between Practices and Representations (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1988), 13–14.

45     Cook and Crang, “The World On a Plate,” 148.

46     Arjun Appadurai, “Introduction: Commodities and the Politics of Value,” in Arjun Appadurai (ed.), The Social Life of Things. Commodities in Cultural Perspectives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 5. See also: Peter Jackson, “Commodity Cultures: The Traffic in Things,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 24 (1999): 95–108.

47     Igor Kopytoff, “The Cultural Biography of Things: Commoditization as Process,” in Appadurai, The Social Life of Things, 64.

48     Samuel Baily, Immigrants in the Lands of Promise. Italians in Buenos Aires and New York City, 1870 to 1914 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999), xv; Judith Rainhorn, Paris, New York: Des migrants italiens, années 1880 – années 1930 (Paris: CNRS éditions, 2005), 14.

49     Jenkins, Social Identity, 200–201.

50     Peter Jackson, “Commodity Cultures: The Traffic in Things,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 24.1 (1999): 105.

51     Michael Cronin, Translation and Identity (Routledge: London & New York, 2006), 45. Cronin identifies two strategies deployed by migrants in response to new linguistic configurations, i.e. “translational assimilation” and “translational accommodation” (52–63).

52     Vivien Burr, Social Constructionism (London & New York: Routledge, 2003), 4.

53     John Edwards, Language, Society, and Identity (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985), 159–160.

54     Kathryn Woodward, “Concepts of Identity and Difference,” in Kathryn Woodward (ed.), Identity and Difference (London: Sage, 1997), 31.

55     Stuart Hall, “Introduction,” in Stuart Hall (ed.), Representation. Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (London: Sage, 1997), 1–7; Kathryn Woodward, “Introduction,” in Woodward, Identity and Difference, 2; Woodward, “Concepts of Identity,” 14–15. Other such systems include embodied or sensory knowledge and maps related to food [see, for example: Lidia Marte, “Foodmaps: Tracing Boundaries of ‘Home’ Through Food Relations,” Food & Foodways 15 (2007): 261–289].

56     I have opted for the use of the French, and not Dutch, terminology throughout this study as it was the one in use at the time by the administration and appears in all the archival sources I have consulted. However, and because Bruxelles has an accepted English translation that came to characterize the whole conurbation, I will use “Brussels” generically to refer to the conurbation, and “the city” or “the commune of Brussels” when dealing specifically with the historic city.

57     In France and Belgium, a commune is the smallest territorial division and administrative unit with its own local government. It is the equivalent of a municipality.

58     The idea to define the conurbation in such a manner was suggested to me by the official commercial directories’ section on “Bruxelles et sa banlieue,” which included the nine adjacent communes. See: Almanachs/Annuaires du commerce et de l’industrie de Bruxelles et des communes limitrophes (Brussels: Mertens & Rozez, 1878–1914).

59     Yvon Leblicq, “L’urbanisation de Bruxelles aux XIXe et XXe siècles (1830–1952),” in Villes en mutations, XIXe -XXe siècles. Actes du 10e colloque international. Spa, 2–5 septembre 1980 (Brussels: Crédit communal, 1982), 384.

60     Peter Scholliers, Arm en rijk aan tafel. Tweehonderd jaar eetcultuur in België (Berchem: EPO, 1993), 138–141.

61     Wanda Balcers and Serge Jaumain, “La Belgique et les expositions universelles,” in Serge Jaumain and Wanda Balcers (eds.), Bruxelles 1910. De l’exposition universelle à l’université (Brussels: ULB-Racine-Dexia, 2010), 11–37.

62     Jan Lucassen and Leo Lucassen, “Migration, Migration History, History: Old Paradigms and New Perspectives,” in Jan Lucassen and Leo Lucassen (eds.), Migration, Migration History, History: Old Paradigms and New Perspectives (Bern: Peter Lang, 1997), 9; Patrick Manning, Migration in World History (New York: Routledge, 2005), 2.

63     For a comprehensive review of the historiography, the debates, and the concepts at the heart of migration history, see: Christiane Harzig and Dirk Hoerder, with Donna Gabaccia, What is Migration History? (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2009). See also: Nancy Green, Repenser les migrations (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2002); Jan Lucassen, Leo Lucassen, and Patrick Manning (eds.), Migration History in World History (Leiden: Brill, 2010).

64     Lucassen and Lucassen, “Migration,” 9–38.

65     Harzig and Hoerder, What is Migration History?, 3.

66     Leslie Page Moch, Moving Europeans: Migration in Western Europe Since 1650 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003), 18.

67     Dirk Hoerder, Cultures in Contact. World Migrations in the Second Millennium (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002), xix.

68     Manning, Migration in World History, 4.

69     Hoerder, Cultures in Contact, 14–21.

70     An “ethnic group refers to descent and culture communities,” where “the group is a kind of sub-set within a nation-state,” “the point of reference of difference is typically culture rather than physical appearance,” and “the group referred to is ‘other’ (foreign, exotic, minority) to some majority who are presumed not to be ‘ethnic’ ” [Steve Fenton, Ethnicity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003), 23].

71     Lucassen and Lucassen, “Migration,” 21–23.

72     Harzig and Hoerder, What is Migration History?, 102–110; Hoerder, Cultures in Contact, 17–19; Manning, Migration in World History, 4–11.

73     Alan Davidson (ed.), Food in Motion: The Migration of Foodstuffs and Cookery Techniques (Leeds: Prospect Books, 1983).

74     Chantal Crenn, “Migration,” in Jean-Pierre Poulain (ed.), Dictionnaire des cultures alimentaires (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2012), 872; Alan Warde, “Eating,” in Frank Trentmann (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 382.

75     These topics were also at the center of a conference held in 2013 at The New School in New York City under the title of “Food and Immigrant Life: The Role of Food in Forced Migration, Migrant Labor, and Recreating Home,” which lead to the publication of a series of articles in Social Research 81.2 (2014).

76     Basically, speaking of a “multicultural society” refers to a “bounded geographic location […] composed of people who belong to different cultures” [Conrad Watson, Multiculturalism (Buckingham: Open University Press, 2000), 1–2].

77     Harvey Levenstein, “The American Response to Italian Food, 1880–1930,” Food & Foodways 1 (1985): 1–24.

78     Hasia Diner, Hungering for America. Italian, Irish, and Jewish Foodways In the Age of Migration (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), xv–xvii, 1–10, 220–230.

79     Donna Gabaccia, We Are What We Eat. Ethnic Food and the Making of Americans (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998), 6–9, 225–232.

80     Anne Kershen, “Introduction: Food in the Migrant Experience,” in Anne Kershen (ed.), Food in the Migrant Experience (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002), 1–13.

81     Panikos Panayi, Spicing Up Britain. The Multicultural History of British Food (London: Reaktion Books, 2008), 8–10, 212–219. See also: Panikos Panayi, Fish and Chips. A History (London: Reaktion Books, 2014).

82     I understand “cuisine” in general as “a repertoire of recipes, how they are prepared and eaten” (Albala, Three World Cuisines, 7).

83     Maren Möhring, “Transnational Food Migration and the Internationalization of Food Consumption. Ethnic Cuisine in West Germany,” in Alexander Nützenadel and Franck Trentmann (eds.), Food and Globalization. Consumption, Markets, and Politics in the Modern World (Oxford: Berg, 2008), 129–150. She further develops this argument in her recent book on foreign foods in West Germany, Fremdes Essen: Die Geschichte der ausländischen Gastronomie in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Munich: Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverslag, 2012).

84     Two examples of such works are: Piero Bevilacqua, Andreina De Clementi, and Emilio Franzina (eds.), Storia dell’emigrazione italiana (Rome: Donzelli, 2009); Paola Corti and Matteo Sanfilippo (eds.), Storia d’Italia. Annali 24. Migrazioni (Turin: Einaudi, 2009). Each work contains one contribution on migrant foodways.

85     Alberto Capatti and Massimo Montanari, La cucina italiana. Storia di una cultura (Rome & Bari: Laterza, 1999), 247–248; John Dickie, Delizia! The Epic History of the Italians and their Food (London: Sceptre, 2008), 233–261.

86     Paola Corti, “Emigrazione e consuetudini alimentari,” in Alberto Capatti, Alberto De Bernardi, and Angelo Varni (eds.), Storia d’Italia. Annali 13. L’alimentazione (Turin: Einaudi, 1998), 690–691.

87     Peppino Ortoleva, “La tradizione e l’abbondanza. Riflessioni sulla cucina degli italiani d’America,” Altreitalie 7 (1992): 30–52; Vito Teti, “Emigrazione, alimentazione, culture popolari,” in Bevilacqua, De Clementi, and Franzina, Storia dell’emigrazione italiana, 577.

88     Harvey Levenstein and Joseph Conlin, “Les habitudes alimentaires des immigrants italiens en Amérique du Nord. Etude de la persistance d’une culture culinaire et de la montée du ‘fast food’ en Amérique du Nord,” Culture et technique 16 (1986): 32–39.

89     Gabaccia, We Are What We Eat, 55.

90     Diner, Hungering for America, 54.

91     Simone Cinotto, “La cucina diasporica: il cibo come segno di identità culturale,” in Corti and Sanfilippo, Storia d’Italia, 653–657.

92     Capatti and Montanari, La cucina italiana, 248; Corti, “Emigrazione,” 719.

93     Diner, Hungering for America, 54, 66, 81.

94     Levenstein, “The American Response,” 19.

95     Dickie, Delizia!, 243.

96     Massimo Montanari, L’identità italiana in cucina (Rome & Bari: Laterza, 2010).

97     See among others: Martin Bruegel and Bruno Laurioux (eds.), Histoire et identités alimentaires en Europe (Paris: Hachette, 2011); Antonella Campanini, Peter Scholliers, and Jean-Pierre Williot, “Identités, aliments et cuisine aux sources d’une Europe alimentaire,” in Antonella Campanini, Peter Scholliers, and Jean-Pierre Williot (eds.), Manger en Europe. Patrimoines, échanges, identités (Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2011), 11–15; Massimo Montanari, Il cibo come cultura (Rome & Bari: Laterza, 2009), xii, 153–157; Peter Scholliers, “Meals, Food Narratives, and Sentiments of Belonging in Past and Present,” in Peter Scholliers (ed.), Food, Drink, and Identity. Cooking, Eating, and Drinking in Europe Since the Middle-Ages (Oxford & New York: Berg, 2001), 4–7.

98     Franco La Cecla, La pasta e la pizza (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1998), 41, 54; Montanari, L’identità italiana, 53–54; Jakob Tanner, “Italienische ‘Makkaroni-Esser’ in der Schweitz Migration von Arbeitskräften und kulinarische Traditionen,” in Hans Jürgen Teuteberg, Gerhard Neumann, and Alois Wierlacher (eds.), Essen und kulturelle Identität (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1997), 488–489.

99     Simone Cinotto, Une famiglia che mangia insieme. Cibo ed etnicità nella comunità italoamericana di New York, 1920–1940 (Turin: Otto, 2001), 430–432; Dickie, Delizia!, 235–240; Diner, Hungering for America, 54–55; Gabaccia, We Are What We Eat, 51–55.

100   Diner, Hungering for America, 49–50; Carol Helstosky, Garlic and Oil. Food and Politics in Italy (Oxford & New York: Berg, 2004), 31.

101   Corti, “Emigrazione,” 718–719.

102   Montanari, L’identità italiana, 55.

103   La Cecla, La pasta, 66.

104   Diner, Hungering for America, 80–81; Ortoleva, “La tradizione e l’abbondanza.”

105   See for a summary of the debate: Sydney Mintz, Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom. Excursions into Eating, Culture, and the Past (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996), 92–105.

106   Alberto Capatti, “L’Italie ou la cohérence de l’effritement,” in Campanini, Scholliers, and Williot, Manger en Europe, 221.

107   Montanari, L’identità italiana, 54.

108   Alberto Capatti, “Lingua, regioni e gastronomia dall’Unità alla seconda guerra mondiale,” in Capatti, De Bernardi, and Varni, Storia d’Italia, 755–757, 792; Capatti and Montanari, La cucina italiana, 33–36. See also: Piero Camporesi, “Introduzione,” in Pellegrino Artusi, La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene (Turin: Einaudi, 2007), ix–lxxii.

109   Francesco Chiapparino, “Tra polverizzazione e concentrazione. L’industria alimentare dall’Unità al periodo tra le due guerre,” in Capatti, De Bernardi, and Varni, Storia d’Italia, 251.

110   Helstosky, Garlic and Oil, 27–33.

111   Dickie, Delizia!, 249–250; Teti, “Emigrazione,” 575–583.

112   Cinotto, Una famiglia, 426–427; Panayi, Spicing Up Britain, 60.

113   Levenstein, “The American Response,” 4.

114   Cinotto, Una famiglia, 211–424; Donna Gabaccia and Jeffrey Pilcher, “ ‘Chili Queens’ and Checkered Tablecloths. Public Dining Cultures of Italians in New York City and Mexicans in San Antonio, Texas, 1870s–1940s,” Radical History Review 10 (2011): 119–123; Maren Möhring, “Staging and Consuming the Italian Lifestyle. The Gelateria and the Pizzeria-Ristorante in Post-war Germany,” Food & History 7.2 (2009): 181–202; Panayi, Spicing Up Britain, 74; Lucio Sponza, “Italian ‘Penny Ice-men’ in Victorian London,” in Kershen, Food in the Migrant Experience, 18.

115   Corti, “Emigrazione,” 708–709.

116   Donna Gabaccia, “Ethnicity in the Business World: Italians in American Food Industries,” Italian American Review 6.2 (1997/1998): 1–19.

117   Ulrike Thoms, “From Migrant Food to Lifestyle Cooking: The Career of Italian Cuisine in Europe,” in European History Online, 21 June 2011, Accessed 12 October 2011,, 11; Gabaccia, We Are What We Eat, 64–92.

118   Diner, Hungering for America, 64–68; Möhring, “Staging and Consuming the Italian Lifestyle”; Thoms, “From Migrant Food,” 12.

119   Roger Aubert (ed.), L’immigration italienne en Belgique. Histoire, langues et identité (Brussels & Louvain-la-Neuve: Istituto italiano di cultura & Université catholique de Louvain, 1985); Mario Battistini, Esuli italiani in Belgio (1815–1860) (Florence: Brunetti, 1968); Dumoulin, Hommes d’affaires et financiers; Dumoulin, “Hommes et cultures,” 271–565; Michel Dumoulin, Les relations économiques italo-belges (1861–1914) (Brussels: Académie royale de Belgique, 1990); Michel Dumoulin and Herman Van der Wee (eds.), Hommes, cultures et capitaux dans les relations italo-belges aux XIXe et XXe siècles (Brussels & Rome: Institut historique belge de Rome, 1983); Michel Dumoulin et al. (eds.), Italie et Belgique en Europe depuis 1918 (Brussels & Rome: Institut historique belge de Rome, 2008); Anne Morelli, Fascismo e antifascismo nell’emigrazione italiana in Belgio, 1922–1940 (Rome: Bonacci, 1987); Anne Morelli, La presse italienne en Belgique, 1919–1945 (Louvain & Brussels: Nauwelaerts, 1981).

For a broader review of the historiography on foreigners and migrations in Belgium, see: Jean-Philippe Schreiber and Anne Morelli, “Histoire des migrations,” in Marco Martiniello, Andrea Rea and Felice Dassetto (eds.), Immigration et intégration en Belgique francophone (Louvain-la-Neuve: Bruylant, 2007), 21–42.

120   Florence Stas, Petits commerçants, colporteurs et artisans italiens à Bruxelles, 1892–1929, Unp. M.A. Diss. (Brussels: Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1999).

121   Leen Beyers, “Cucina casareccia. Een culinaire kijk op de integratie van de Atinesi in Tubize vanaf 1947,” Tijdschrift voor Sociale Geschiedenis 25.3 (1999): 257–284; Inge Mestdag, “Introducing Italian Cuisine into Flemish Home-Meal Cooking in the Twentieth Century. An Analysis of the Flemish Cook Bible Ons kookboek (1927–1999),” Food & History 1.1 (2003): 155–177; Gaëlle Van Ingelgem, De l’exotisme au retour à la tradition. Les restaurants italiens à Bruxelles dans la deuxième moitié du XXe siècle, Unp. M.A. Diss. (Brussels: Université Libre de Bruxelles, 2011).

122   Leen Beyers, “Creating Home. Food, Ethnicity, and Gender among Italians in Belgium since 1946,” Food, Culture, and Society 11.1 (2008): 23.

123   Beyers, “Creating Home,” 8–27.

124   Kershen (ed.), Food in the Migrant Experience.

125   Manning, Migration in World History, 77–91.

126   Sidney Mintz, Tasting Food, 18.

127   John Vidal, “Climate Change: How a Warming World Threatens Food Supplies,” The Guardian Weekly, April 19, 2013: 12–13.

128   I have nevertheless used five photographs to complement my discussion on ice cream peddlers (see Chapters 3 and 4).

129   Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln, “Introduction: The Discipline and Practice of Qualitative Research,” in Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln (eds.), The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (Los Angeles: Sage, 2011), 4–7.

130   Joe Kincheloe and Kathleen Berry, Rigor and Complexity in Educational Research: Conceptualizing the Bricolage (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2004), 1.

131   Joe Kincheloe, “Describing the Bricolage: Conceptualizing a New Rigor in Qualitative Research,” Qualitative Inquiry 7.6 (2001): 682.

132   Abbas Tashakkori and John Creswell, “The New Era of Mixed Methods,” Journal of Mixed Methods Research 1 (2007): 4.

133   Charles Teddlie and Abbas Tashakkori, Foundations of Mixed Methods Research (Los Angeles: Sage, 2009), 318.

134   Kincheloe, “Describing the Bricolage,” 687–689.

135   Frank Caestecker, Alien Policy in Belgium, 1840–1940 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2000), 31.

136   Patricia Van den Eeckhout, “De gemeenten en de lokale openbare instellingen,” in Patricia Van den Eeckhout and Guy Vanthemsche (eds.), Bronnen voor de studie van het hedendaagse België, 19e -21e eeuw (Brussels: Koninklijke Commissie voor Geschiedenis, 2009), 44.

137   Edmond Picard, N. d’Hoffschmidt, and Jules De Le Court (eds.), Pandectes belges. Encyclopédie de législation, de doctrine et de jurisprudence belges, Vol. 38 (Brussels: Ferdinand Larcier, 1891), 640–644.

138   Frank Caestecker, Filip Strubbe, and Pierre-Alain Tallier, Les dossiers individuels des étrangers produits par la Sûreté publique (Police des étrangers), 1835–1943 (Brussels: Archives Générales du Royaume, 2009).

139   Favero and Tassello, “Cent’anni di emigrazione italiana,” 9–11; Lucio Sponza, Italian Immigrants in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Realities and Images (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1988), 11, 31–41.

140   Claire Lemercier and Claire Zalc, Méthodes quantitatives pour l’historien (Paris: La Découverte, 2008), 34–41.

141   Lemercier and Zalc, Méthodes quantitatives, 41–47.

142   Defined as having at least two out of the three following characteristics: an Italian place of birth, nationality, or last name. Though it leaves out individuals born from an Italian mother, it guarantees serious connections with Italy and Italianness. I thank Anne Morelli for recommending this selection procedure, which she discusses in: Anne Morelli, La participation des émigrés italiens à la Résistance belge (Rome: Ministero Affari esteri, 1983), 17–18.

143   I discovered this upon calling that commune’s archival department.