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American Italian online

We all know American Italian food is not quite the same as Italian Italian. For instance, Italians could afford more meat in this country, so they adapted the old-country dish eggplant parmesan to make chicken parmesan. Other dishes created here include cioppino, clams casino, chicken piccata (in fact, practically the entire chicken repertoire, because chicken had rarely been eaten in Italy) and even spaghetti with meatballs -- traditionally, meatballs had been served separately from pasta. Shock of shocks, the ubiquitous pasta primavera was invented by the Italian owner of a New York French restaurant, Le Cirque.

In 2004, a writer named Skip Lombardi published a book on this subject, "Almost Italian," which included scores of these classic American Italian dishes. He's bringing out a new edition right now -- on his blog. Two or three passages have been appearing per week. So far they've been from the historical introduction, but recipes will be coming soon. This might be the first cookbook ever to be serialized recipe by recipe in blog form.

Lombardi welcomes blog viewers to offer their own comments, stories and, of course, recipes. So if you have Italian roots, here's your chance to bring your heritage to the public.

-- Charles Perry

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