It's All About the FoodChristmas Baking with SusieJ

Mark Kurlansky: The Food of a Younger Land

During the Great Depression, the US government's Works Progress Administration, which I know best for building so many still-standing bridges in the Philly suburbs, included the Federal Writers' Project to employ writers and journalists. The first writers' project was a series of unexpectedly successful guidebooks to the country and its territories. A later, uncompleted project was to chronicle the foodways of the nation.

Seventy years later, food writer Mark Kurlansky found the raw manuscripts for America Eats in the Library of Congress. He's selected "not always the best but the most interesting pieces" for The Food of a Younger Land, to give a better view of how America ate before highways and refrigeration.

The introductory essay gives context to the Works Progress Administration and Federal Writers' Project, and the state of 1940s industrialization and how it influenced American eating habits and regionalism.

The writing from the project has been left unedited and is a mixed bag, rather like a random collection of blog articles. There is a snippet from Zora Neale Hurston, who wrote for the Florida Writers' Project; an anonymous listing of "New York Soda-Luncheonette Jargon and Language"; an essay on Mississippi food by Eudora Welty. There are multiple regional chowders from New England, Lutefisk in Wisconson and Minnesota, possum in the South and beaver tail in the North West. My favorite might be "An Oregon Protest Against Mashed Potatoes." There are recipes, essays, and reporting on festivals and rituals.

    You can follow me @ChristmasBaking on Twitter.

    Powered by Movable Type 4.32-en