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The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America summary The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America, series The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America, book The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America, pdf 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 6ca9730226 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 S, 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 S 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


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

  1. says:

    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 traditional I was expecting a light read, with some humor thrown in and I was blown away At the height of the Depression, the Works Progress Administration WPA was developed to put many of America s jobless to work doing things such as building parks Eagle Point Park with gorgeous Frank Lloyd inspired architectural pavilions and ponds in Dubuque, Iowa or painters such as Grant Wood American Gothic who has huge murals painted in the Iowa State Library, and many other creative projects to preserve America s rich history One of the projects the WPA started was the Federal Writers Project to help record and preserve for history the regional and ethnic foods that someone had the foresight to see were going to change, or disappear altogether with the increasingly easy transportation and influx of new ideas from different areas of the US and the world.The book is broken down into regional areas and features short vignettes written about foods, food customs, recipes, and how they played a social role in a time now long past Many of the short essays were written by authors who went on to become famous, others were written by average writers who simply had a tale to tell What came out of it is a book that literally transports you back in time and enriches your sense of history in a very real way Some of the foods talked about made my mouth water with anticipation, others made me cringe, but all showed just how much we ve lost in the last century with the shift to frozen and shelf ready standardized foods as well as the limited choices in drive ins and chain restaurants Many people have lost the knowledge and the eagerness of delayed gratification of biting into the first fruits and vegetables of a given season and the recipes that sprang from them, the delight of the special recipes that only a neighbor could make for the town festival, and the richness of choice and taste that came from each region s way of using what was produced close to home.This book is a time transporter Don t miss a chance to take the trip


  2. says:

    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 dinners became a way of life I wish this book has been published before my father died The first sections after the introduction are about Vermont and my father was born in Bennington in 1929 This is the food he grew up with I remember him describing butternuts and stopped at elderly ladies homes who sold Victorian style dinners from their living rooms He said one winter night, on Valentine Street, when it was snowing, he say a man in a sleigh pulled by a horse That was a rare sight, but it still happened Several of the dishes were really interesting and I would like to know how to cook them in modern kitchens The Vermont picked pumpkin and pickled butternut recipes looked especially appealing I wish I knew how the Spanish of the Southwest cooked their dried vegetables esp pumpkin and cucumber Lastly, I would like to know how to make the sourdough pancakes that show up over and over again There were all sorts of lost flavors I would like to try I have never tasted a native persimmon and have only seen the Asian varieties for sale My father used to hunt pheasant in Pennsylvania, which apparently was popular in Nebraska, but I have never tasted it There were plenty of other things that I am glad we have left behind, or are trying to The extreme racism in the Southern sections turned my stomach There was also a condescension and hostility towards outsiders epitomized in Eudora Welty s essay that I disliked Men seemed to work very hard at proving they were men see the multiple entries about oysters.There were long descriptions of Native American food traditions and the America of days gone by had a lot seafood New England ate vegetables than I imagined There were several dinners and suppers listed that were either vegetarian or used very little meat.


  3. says:

    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 detail about the writers and the events and food they were writing about There is no attempt to find things going on currently, as in AE This just presents the material as it was found in the archives, organized as it was originally intended to be There is some overlap with AE as far as the chosen essays, but not a whole lot.As I said in my review of AE, I really do enjoy reading the original works It also blows my mind that the government subsidized this project I have always known about the CCC and the infrastructure projects that were done It is just somewhat surprising that they extended the project to writers and artists.


  4. says:

    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 the book quite a bit A few of the vignettes, such as the Italian feed, are quite charming Some of the recipes are hair raisingly gruesome Indiana pork cake, combining ground pork and molasses comes to mind as a prime example, though lutefisk is obviously a candidate as well.Problems, however, almost outweigh the pleasures The southern recipes written in dialect are offensive to the max, and while they illustrate a historical truth of how this was once acceptable writing, the modern reader should not have to endure large amounts of it The point can be made rather quickly.Another problem is the nature of the work much was written by amateurs, and it shows.Another problem is the editing This could have been cut down even further There is too much repetition in subject matter, and even the occasional anecdote is told than once.Finally, the audio version of the book while well read forced me to listen to recipes I would have normally scanned And it was not always clear when it was Kurlansky s commentary, and when it was the source material.Even so, this book is certainly worth a look see It does give a fascinating peek into another era.


  5. says:

    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 Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky I thought it would be a book by him about the history of food in the United States Perhaps I didn t look too closely at the cover, where it plainly 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 traditional from the lost WPA files Or maybe I just didn t remember what the WPA was That being said, this is an interesting compilation, and it s great if you re a history buff who is also a foodie But I just expected, and wanted, something cohesive, an overall history, even with different chapters on different areas But I didn t particularly want a book of snippets by different people in different locations Also, some explanations would have been nice I encountered the word beeves twice, and I only know the definition because I follow a grammar page on facebook view spoiler It s the plural for beef hide spoiler


  6. says:

    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 before the project was completed, and the various drafts landed in the Library of Congress until Mark Kurlansky realized how badly they needed to be published I was a bit concerned about the size of the book a book 300 pages long, full of unedited works has the potential to drag Instead, the short length of the individual pieces, and the sheer variety of the content helped me speed right through There are some poorly written pieces, but a page later you get to move onto some new snack in some new narrative voice The other major drawback in this book is that some passages are unapologetically racist Perhaps that is to be expected from the era, and Kurlansky provides some historical context, but it s still a bummer for the modern reader Finally, just to highlight some things I learned about in this book Minnesota booya NY soda fountain jargon Parties focused around eggnog, coca cola, maple sugaring or menudo


  7. says:

    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 the Federal Writers Project FWP seventy years ago a time still within memory for tens of thousands of Americans Yet the food landscape of the land has changed immensely, due in large part to improved technology and transportation and the spread of restaurant chains.Kurlansky s introduction provides an explanation of how this effort came to be it was the latest effort by the FWP to chronicle the life and times of the United States in the Depression era The original concept was for the hundreds of FWP contributors to submit material that would then be edited into five major sections, corresponding to the five regions of the country as designated by the FWP These essays would be supplemented by a few shorter pieces from each region.By the dawn of the 1940s, the FWP was already seeing defections from its ranks, and the arrival of World War II put an end to the project originally titled America Eats Kurlansky rediscovered these lost manuscripts, and set out to assemble a book from them In addition to his opening essay, Kurlansky provides introductory commentary to most of the selections The result is interesting but highly uneven There are polished pieces, oral histories, recipes, translations of diner lingo and Much of it represents a snapshot in time American food habits as they were, circa 1940 while there is some history dating back to early Colonial and Native American times The result is worth a look, especially if you have an interest in the history of food but would probably be enjoyable as something to dip into from time to time, rather than a cover to cover read.


  8. says:

    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 was the documentation of regional food traditions The bombing of Pearl Harbor cut the project short, and the unedited manuscripts were sent to the Library of Congress where they gathered dust for many years.Fast forward several decades, and enter Mark Kurlansky author of several outstanding books that examine history through the lens of food, including Cod A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World and Salt A World History To create his lengthily titled book, The Food of a Younger Land 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 Traditional from the Lost WPA Files, Kurlansky combed through the archive of WPA files and unearthed some fascinating writing about America s early eating habits He extracts essays, anecdotes and recipes from the original documents, and prefaces each regional section with his own historical analysis Far than a cookbook, this book immerses the reader in bygone cultures by giving accounts of regional traditions such as Georgia Coca Cola parties, Puget Sound salmon feasts and geoduck cookery, New York automats, Minnesota lutefisk suppers, and a Vermont maple sugaring party.I listened to the audio book, and unfortunately I didn t particular like the voice of the reader Stephen Hoye a bit clipped and condescending


  9. says:

    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 researching and writing Food of a Younger Land On the surface it may seem like an easy book, gather articles that were written for the Writers Project of America one of the works projects around the time of the Great Depression and put them into book form by the region where they were created.However in many ways Kurlansky adds the context that makes each essay understandable to a reader of modern times As the front cover indicates, these essays, short stories, interviews, and recipes come from a time before the interstate highway system and fast food restaurants They show an America just beginning to move from embracing the west to rapidly migrating towards it.Included in the book, mainly in the Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast regions are recipes that will literally give you a chance to experience history first hand If you love that subject this book is an opportunity to literally taste a different time and place without ever leaving the comforts of home and modern day devices.


  10. says:

    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 great fun for the most part Kurlansky s section and piece introductions are wonderful, of course Eudora Welty s piece is, well, Eudora Welty There are some passages from the Deep South that read as shockingly racist today There are passages that make one understand how we have abused our fisheries, to the sorrow of the modern epicure Parts made me laugh but there were also parts I flipped through in a hurry The description of the Oregon Pioneer dinner was purely joyful and hilarious Some of the recipes for beans sound better than anything modern Mint julep recipes call for four ounces of bourbon, imagine drinking four ounces of bourbon At breakfast shudder Overall it was a fascinating portrait, a moment in time, and well worth a read if you are at all interested in the junction between food and history.


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