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FOOD & ART – “An American in Rome”

“An American in Rome” is a 1954 film, directed by Steno, stage name of Stefano Vanzina. The protagonist of the film, starring Alberto Sordi, is a young working class simpleton living in the suburbs, infatuated with anything American, filtered through overseas films (mainly westerns and war movies). His admiration extends to food, as well.

The most famous scene in the film is that of the consummation of an evening meal. According to the stereotypical mindset of the protagonist, Americans eat jam, mustard, milk and yogurt at dinner. Spread together on a slice of bread, as soon as he ingurgitates it he has an immediate reaction of rejection, made explicitly visible.


As a result the milk goes to the cat and the yogurt to the mouse. The mustard instead will be useful to exterminate bedbugs. Then a sudden shift towards a more familiar and healthy Mediterranean diet, at the time repudiated to make room for the one imported from the States.

Our character, showing great voracity, plunges greedily into the bowl of pasta, in this case spaghetti, “maccaroni”, prepared by his mother, watering it generously with red wine contained in a rustic glass flask, i.e. covered with raffia, oval and with an elongated neck: a container that has almost completely disappeared from the tables of the Italian middle class and urban petite bourgeoisie.


(Bruno Nobile)

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