Mangia, y’all


A ritualistic saying that acts as performative speech to signal that people may start eating (similar to “bon appetit”).


The informant comes from an Italian family that currently lives in Dallas, TX. Her family emigrated from Sicily 6 generations ago through Louisiana and settled in South Texas; they have lived in the same city ever since. Her generation is actually the first generation that is not fully Sicilian Italian, because her father is from Nebraska. Members of the family will commonly say this phrase before meals.


Given the family’s deep connections to both Italy and Texas, both places are fundamentally intrinsic to their family identity. This saying is not only a form of performative speech that instructs people to begin eating, but an indicator of a deeply loyal family history as a source of pride. Saying this phrase ritualistically before eating contextualizes mealtimes as a ritual through which to connect with the family through food, in both the past and present.