It seems that they were not encouraged to learn Polish.
They probably weren't. Before recent times, the idea was 'move and fit in' vs the more modern view of 'move and try to stay unchanged'. People in that time WERE encouraged to be american and ignore their past.
Some argue this new way of trying to retain one's cultural identity (the whole ______-american after the initial generation) is ruining the states today. Since everyone is trying to pull into their minority/ethnic groups the american unity is destroyed.
Personally I like the move to rediscover your roots, so long as its kept in perspective vs reincorporation with the ancestral land.
Quick RUN, there is nothing more irritating than a yanky root seekers who has just discovered their "heritage".
Bigot much? The difference is that the US largely lacks a long and stable culture unlike those in EU. Also, since all the main minorities are so insistent on keeping their culture (Mexicans, for instance) others feel deprived for not having a similar root to pull from. Thus the need to find said roots.
How on EARTH can community, political views, perceptions, behavioural traits be expressed through food.
You're kidding, right? Look up Japanese tea ceremony, look up why some nations won't eat certain foods (cow/pork) even though they are tasty and available, look up native amarican cooking practices, etc.
earlyfoods expressed everything there was about a population (now it's a bit diff with mass production and such high immigration practices). Hunts were communal, and thus the community had to share the spoils. In africa (for a modern example) there are villages that make this crappy porrage stuff that takes the whole village to prep and everyone takes it from the same place. One person/family wouldn't be able to produce it.
Political and religious views (historically largely synonymous) impacted what a culture could/should eat, and so on
Perceptions also fall under the former, though also translate to what people ate when, special ways some things were prepared, etc. My grandmother still has the superstition that an egg shell holds the chick's spirit, thus insisted I always crush the shell after using the egg to let the spirit free... I do that automatically now.
Behavior traits are practically what makes food so different in different parts of the world. And I don't just mean ingredients. Sushi looks like it does because they needed ways to make food compact. If i'm not mistaken Cornish pastries came about because men needed a lunch for work that they could eat quickly and without lugging utensils and other stuff that might fall and spill.