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a citizen or resident of the United Kingdom who has Italian ethnic origin
'This taste of true northern Italy is appreciated by Italians, a few central European sightseers (usually en route to the Adriatic coast) and Britalians visiting friends and family.'ItalianVisits.com 6th May 2007
'Italian chef Antonio Carluccio has poured scorn on Britalian food – the vast amounts of Italian dishes Britons buy in supermarkets.'Xing.com 7th September 2004
Joe Calzaghe, undefeated professional boxer, known as both 'the pride of Wales' and 'the Italian Dragon'. Born in Hammersmith and raised in South Wales, but with a Sardinian father and a surname instantly indicative of his Italian roots, Joe is a classic example of a Britalian.
The word Britalian usually refers to a person who was born in the United Kingdom but is of Italian descent, or an Italian who has emigrated from Italy to take up permanent residence in the UK (a contemporary example of the latter is celebrity chef Aldo Zilli). Less commonly, it also describes someone of Italian descent who was born elsewhere (e.g. the US), but now resides in Britain.
Britalians are often further subdivided into Italian English, Italian Welsh, and Italian Scots. The entertainment industry provides a number of contemporary examples falling into the latter category, including actors Tom Conti, Peter Capaldi, Daniella Nardini and Ronni Ancona, and the late Anthony Minghella, award-winning film director and playwright.
the adjective Britalian does not usually describe a fusion of British and English cuisines, but rather the British take on Italian cooking, perpetuated by a host of very popular restaurant chains and supermarket foods
The word Britalian is also used as an adjective, but almost exclusively in relation to food. The adjective Britalian does not usually describe a fusion of British and English cuisines, but rather the British take on Italian cuisine, perpetuated by a host of very popular restaurant chains and supermarket foods (pasta sauces etc). In this context Britalian often has slightly negative connotations, with the underlying suggestion that, like Indian cuisine before it, genuine Italian cuisine has somehow been compromised to suit the British palate, paying little attention to authentic recipes and ingredients.
In a recent twist however, the term has cropped up in relation to UK businesses producing ingredients usually found abroad. With the pound falling against the Euro, imports have become more expensive, providing an increased demand for Britalian produce – British companies producing traditional Italian ingredients such as mozzarella, ricotta and salami.
Although Britalians have had a presence in the UK for centuries, some featuring in history (British Prime Minster Benjamin Disraeli had partially Italian roots, for example), the majority of today's Britalians relate back to a large influx from Italy after World War II, when many Italians came to the UK as an alternative to the US in an attempt to find work and avoid political and economic turmoil back home.
Though largely unacknowledged in printed dictionaries, there is evidence for use of the term Britalian as far back as the early eighties. It wasn't until 2004 however, when UK-based Italian chef Antonio Carluccio criticized the trend towards 'anglicisation' of Italian cuisine, that the term Britalian hit the media spotlight.
Britalian functions as a catchy alternative to the more formal term Anglo-Italian (Anglo- is a productive prefix defined in the Macmillan English Dictionary as 'involving or related to England or the UK'). Britalian capitalises on the duplication of the 'it' syllable in both British and Italian to form a cohesive blend of the two words.
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This article was first published on 5th August 2009.