I was just bitching on the MHB boards that nearly all the only portrayals of Italian-Americans is mafia related, and people pointed out a few others – like did you know Elaine on Seinfeld was supposed to be Catholic? Nice try, but she wasn’t. Other than Ray Romano, Fonzi and Al from Happy Days, there seems to be a real dearth of the rest of us that isn’t Sopranos-esque.
* Goomba, or goombah, is a term used to describe a stereotypical Italian-American, & in a few dictionaries, implies a connection to the mob. & Yes, it’s also the name of one of the bad guys in Super Mario.
I didn’t have any goodfellas in my own Italian family, and we’re even Sicilian / Calabrian. I tend to describe my dad as “the other kind of Italian” because he is – more Joe DiMaggio than Godfather. Mostly if it’s not mafia it’s about food, or more likely, it’s about both. But honestly, is there a culture where the food isn’t important? My Big Fat Greek Wedding got closer to my experience of being Italian-American than any of those goomba movies.
& These days, in New York, there’s about three blocks left of Little Italy; Chinatown has been encroaching for years, and Italians left the city – for everywhere. (Though the midwest could use a few more, because finding inexpensive, good Italian food in Wisconsin leaves you at Pizza Hut. ugh.) But at least now there’ll be a museum of the whole Italian-American experience, located where Little Italy used to be.
(Thanks to Nettie, Caprice, VM, & Donna, all of whom put in their two cents.)