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The Food of a Younger Land

The Food of a Younger Land
Mark Kurlansky
New York : Riverhead Books, 2009
TX715 .F685 2009

Award-winning New York Times bestselling author Mark Kurlansky takes us back to the food and eating habits of 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. Back then, the nation's food was seasonal, regional, traditional, and it helped form and reflect the distinct character, attitudes, and customs of those who ate it.

In the late 1930s, with the country gripped in the Great Depression and millions of Americans struggling to get by, President Roosevelt created the Federal Writers' Project under the New Deal's Works Progress Administration as a make-work initiative for authors. Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty, and Nelson Algren were among the writers dispatched across the country to chronicle the eating habits, traditions, and struggles of local people at a moment in time right before they began to disappear. The project, called "America Eats," was abandoned in the early 1940s because of the war, and never resumed.

The Food of a Yonger Land unearths this forgotten literary and historical treasure and brings it to exhuberant life. Featuring authentic recipes, anecdotes, and photographs, these pages evoke a bygone era when Americans had never heard of fast food and the grocery superstore was unimaginable. Mark Kurlansky brilliantly documents the remarkable stories and fills in the historical spaces with his own context and commentary, serving as a guide to this hearty and poignant look at the country's culinary 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, eating an enourmous diversity of meals. From Mississippi chitlins to Indiana persimmon puddings, Maine lobsters to Montana beaver tails, they recorded the curiosities, commonalities, and communities of American food.

Quoted from dustjacket.