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Old 06-11-2020, 08:28 PM
 
Location: Ontario, NY
3,047 posts, read 6,770,085 times
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When we were looking at houses to buy last year, we came across another kitchen in a lower level of the house, not quite in a basement. We really didn't understand the need for it, the upstairs kitchen was all remodeled, the lower level one was dated, around the 1970's.
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Old 06-17-2020, 01:22 PM
 
Location: Rochester, NY
7 posts, read 1,703 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TechGromit View Post
When we were looking at houses to buy last year, we came across another kitchen in a lower level of the house, not quite in a basement. We really didn't understand the need for it, the upstairs kitchen was all remodeled, the lower level one was dated, around the 1970's.
As the son of Italian immigrants (hence the name Sangwich) I can speak from experience. The kitchen in the basement, and the basement in general was used to keep the formal kitchen and the upstairs in general 'preserved', or clean and tidy for special events such as holidays or guests. The basement is seen as a more relaxed environment, one that could be used and abused to a certain degree, while the upstairs was reserved for special occasions. To this day, my parents living room still has custom fitted plastic on the furniture which we as kids were discouraged to sit on (not that it was comfortable anyway) and usually sent to the basement.

The living room in the garage was a way of expanding the usability of the house. It basically created a new living space in the summer months, one that was more comfortable before AC became widely standard. It pretty much was the predecessor of the 3 season rooms we see today.
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Old 06-18-2020, 06:05 AM
 
Location: western NY
1,527 posts, read 385,289 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sangwich View Post
As the son of Italian immigrants (hence the name Sangwich) I can speak from experience. The kitchen in the basement, and the basement in general was used to keep the formal kitchen and the upstairs in general 'preserved', or clean and tidy for special events such as holidays or guests. The basement is seen as a more relaxed environment, one that could be used and abused to a certain degree, while the upstairs was reserved for special occasions. To this day, my parents living room still has custom fitted plastic on the furniture which we as kids were discouraged to sit on (not that it was comfortable anyway) and usually sent to the basement.

The living room in the garage was a way of expanding the usability of the house. It basically created a new living space in the summer months, one that was more comfortable before AC became widely standard. It pretty much was the predecessor of the 3 season rooms we see today.
You most definitely remind me of a couple of neighbors I had, when I was a kid. And yes, they were of Italian heritage.
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Old 06-18-2020, 08:27 AM
 
2,539 posts, read 1,778,273 times
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Originally Posted by sangwich View Post
As the son of Italian immigrants (hence the name Sangwich) I can speak from experience. The kitchen in the basement, and the basement in general was used to keep the formal kitchen and the upstairs in general 'preserved', or clean and tidy for special events such as holidays or guests. The basement is seen as a more relaxed environment, one that could be used and abused to a certain degree, while the upstairs was reserved for special occasions. To this day, my parents living room still has custom fitted plastic on the furniture which we as kids were discouraged to sit on (not that it was comfortable anyway) and usually sent to the basement.

The living room in the garage was a way of expanding the usability of the house. It basically created a new living space in the summer months, one that was more comfortable before AC became widely standard. It pretty much was the predecessor of the 3 season rooms we see today.

I'm not Italian myself, but have dated many Italian ladies. I think they also used the basement kitchen for canning sauce and cooking for large gatherings
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Old 06-18-2020, 11:24 AM
 
Location: Rochester, NY
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yes, canning was a big part of every summer at my house. we used to go to a farm and pick about 13 bushels of plum (roma) tomatoes and my mother and grandmother would be down in the basement for a week boiling, canning, etc. God I miss the food! every couple of months they would bake about 20 loaves of bread and a variety of pizzas for freezing. I never lacked for friends on those particular saturdays.
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Old 06-21-2020, 04:46 PM
 
Location: Rochester, New York
88 posts, read 71,475 times
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I'm Italian American from New Jersey and this wasn't common there, but living in Rochester for five years I've heard of the predominantly westside Italian American tradition of the Italian parlor, aka a garage den. Italian American traditions differ somewhat in various cities in the northeast, so I find it an interesting quirk and I've been curious if this is common in other cities.

In NJ we definitely had people do the canning, etc. in their garages or basements as sangwich mentioned, though. Otherwise the garages were full of typical garage or basement items and usually housed cars.
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Old 06-24-2020, 05:24 PM
 
Location: Greenville, SC
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In Buffalo it's called a "Polish Porch".

A great family down the street from us in Greece when I was growing up had a screened-in garage during the warmer months. They were of Irish extraction.
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Old 06-25-2020, 08:36 AM
 
Location: Raleigh
140 posts, read 210,561 times
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I'm of Irish descent and we had a screen room in our garage. It was a nice "outdoor" space where we could escape the mosquitoes. As many others have stated, it wasn't just an Italian thing, it was more of a way to deal with the summer heat in the days before air conditioning was common. Same for the basement kitchen, a cooler place to cook in the heat of the summer and a great space to do the canning which of course always happened in the dog days of summer!!
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Old 07-28-2020, 09:47 PM
 
Location: Tyler, TX, born + raised SF Bay
3,770 posts, read 1,596,906 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by db2797 View Post
Rochester has one of the highest population of Italians in the United States. What you are seeing is a part of Italian culture. It's called an Italian Living Room, Italian porch, or Italian Garage. Italians love to use their garages as living spaces. It's part of the culture that has been passed on through generations
That’s exactly what my Italian(ish) BIL calls it. Ain’t my thing, but it ain’t my garage.
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