To get in the mood, a quick visit to this weekend's Italian Festival at Seattle Center.
These days, we live in a culturally diverse city, with 70 countries and 129 languages represented in the public school system alone. But in the early 1940s, Italians and Japanese made up the bulk of the region's immigrants. We know all-too-well the government-sanctioned hysteria that herded American citizens of Japanese ancestry into "relocation centers" after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
What's less documented is that Italian-Americans were also victims. Italians suspected of sympathizing with Mussolini's fascist government were interned; in San Francisco, the U.S. Coast Guard seized fishing boats owned by Italians. A silent, secret, shameful episode, chronicled in a sad exhibit titled "Una Storia Segreta."
It's not all gloomy history, however. Salumi, Seattle's world-class Italian sausage-maker, is sponsoring its second "Salami Challenge" to encourage both professional and amateur sausage-makers. (Read my article about last year's challenge here.) The rest of the doings are predictable: wine tastings ($5), grape stomping, Italian movies, meatballs on a stick, Italian sausage sandwiches smothered in peppers and tomato sauce ($5). Continues through Sunday.