The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America

The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America Review

A remarkable portrait of American food before World War II, presented by the New York Times-bestselling author of Cod and Salt.

Award-winning New York Times-bestselling author Mark Kurlansky takes us back to the food and eating habits of a younger America: Before the national highway system brought the country closer together; before chain restaurants imposed uniformity and low quality; and before the Frigidaire meant frozen food in mass quantities, the nation's food was seasonal, regional, and traditional. It helped form the distinct character, attitudes, and customs of those who ate it.

In the 1930s, with the country gripped by the Great Depression and millions of Americans struggling to get by, FDR created the Federal Writers' Project under the New Deal as a make-work program for artists and authors. A number of writers, including Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty, and Nelson Algren, were dispatched all across America to chronicle the eating habits, traditions, and struggles of local people. The project, called "America Eats," was abandoned in the early 1940s because of the World War and never completed.

The Food of a Younger Land unearths this forgotten literary and historical treasure and brings it to exuberant life. Mark Kurlansky's brilliant book captures these remarkable stories, and combined with authentic recipes, anecdotes, photos, and his own musings and analysis, evokes a bygone era when Americans had never heard of fast food and the grocery superstore was a thing of the future. Kurlansky serves as a guide to this hearty and poignant look at the country's roots.

From New York automats to Georgia Coca-Cola parties, from Arkansas possum-eating clubs to Puget Sound salmon feasts, from Choctaw funerals to South Carolina barbecues, the WPA writers found Americans in their regional niches and eating an enormous diversity of meals. From Mississippi chittlins to Indiana persimmon puddings, Maine lobsters, and Montana beavertails, they recorded the curiosities, commonalities, and communities of American food.

Title:The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America
Edition Language:English

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Karla

    The book cover says...."A portrait of American food - before the national highway system, before chain restaurants, and before frozen food, when the nation's food was seasonal, regional, and tradition...

  • Hester

    Hot dog, this book was fun! It uses documents from the Federal Writer's Program(part of the WPA) to document regional American cooking after canning was introduced, but before fast food and frozen tv ...

  • Amy

    Another analysis of the essays that were meant to be compiled into one project for the WPA. Compared to America Eats, this one goes into a bit more detail about the writers and the events and food the...

  • Debbie

    This book is a pretty neat idea - publishing long forgotten works from the Federal Writers project . But, alas,, much of that work deserves to remain in the dust bin of history. I did enjoy parts of t...

  • Selwa

    I'm tempted to give this 2 stars (I thought it was merely OK), but in the interest of fairness, I went with 3. After all, it's my own fault that I went in with different expectations. The Food of a Yo...

  • Kelly

    So, way back during the Depression, did you know that the WPA also paid writers to write? One of their projects was to compile descriptions of regional foods and eating habits. The WPA disbanded befor...

  • Claire Hall

    “The Food of A Younger Land” provides an interesting glimpse at a United States not all that far in the past, but one that seems very, very far away. The materials for this book were generated by ...

  • Paige

    Back before eating locally was trendy, it was a necessity. In Depression-era America, one of the WPA projects for out-of-work writers – including Eudora Welty, Saul Bellow and Zora Neale Hurston –...

  • Will

    If you love food and love history and maybe also have a short attention span you will love this book. Mark Kurlansky is one of the best authors at books on food history and he did a spectacular job re...

  • Melody

    Spotty is the kindest word I can use to describe this patchwork quilt of a book, drawn from source material gathered by FDR's Federal Writer's Project during the heyday of the Great Depression. It's g...