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The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of…

The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food--Before the… (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Mark Kurlansky

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6982622,614 (3.37)57
Using long-forgotten WPA files archived in the Library of Congress, bestselling author Mark Kurlansky paints a detailed picture of Depression Era Americans through the food that they ate and the local traditions and customs they observed when planning and preparing meals.
Title: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
Authors:Mark Kurlansky
Info:Riverhead Hardcover (2009), Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Your library

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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 by Mark Kurlansky (2009)


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» See also 57 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
3.5 An enjoyable, if uneven, collection. This is a book culled, not made, so difficult to review comprehensively. Considerably redundant and more recipe based than was necessary. Worth it for sheer variance and moments of joy. ( )
  Eoin | Jun 3, 2019 |
This was more of a 2 1/2 - some bits were interesting, but there's only so many meat barbecues I'm interested in reading about. Also the library wanted it back - I mostly skimmed the last 1/2 of it. There were some interesting stories about native American foods. The whole time capsule feel of some of the pieces was fascinating, but somehow it came across more as a pile of essays rather than something that hung together. ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
An interesting compilation of lost regional/state culinary essays and interviews written by authors employed by the Works Progress Administration during The Great Depression. A treasure trove for food historians and anyone curious about the roots of American cuisine. ( )
  dele2451 | Oct 29, 2017 |
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
  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
Fitfully interesting collection. The pieces here, as Kurlansky's introduction explains, were submissions to a series of planned food guides; however, for reasons both editorial and political, the WPA ended up canceling the project, and much of the material was lost. What survived is serviceable prose, but a lot drier than one would expect, especially given that several of the writers went on to become names, and sometimes the essays resort to cliches and overdone lyricism. Also, as with any hodgepodge, the pieces vary widely in quality and interest. It might have been better to use the essays as primary material for a book that's really about the project, rather than publish these very unpolished essays themselves in anthology form. ( )
  bostonian71 | May 6, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
In The Food of a Younger Land, Kurlansky has selected some of the most interesting rough copy — including eating rituals, recipes, and even poems about food — and grouped them according to the proposed America Eats plan in five broad regional categories. He's also supplied short commentaries about the entries and some of their lesser-known authors. All together, the pieces Kurlansky has collected here constitute a marvelous goulash of gastronomical oddities and antiques; a remembrance of tastes and customs past.
added by John_Vaughan | editNPR, MAUREEN CORRIGAN (Apr 15, 2012)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mark Kurlanskyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Works Progress Administrationmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom's. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are greater than your own.

—NELSON ALGREN, A Walk on the Wild Side, 1956
Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom's. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are greater than your own. -- Nelson Algren, A Walk on the Wild Side, 1956.
To the memory of Studs Terkel, one of the last of them, who talked, listened, mixed a martini, told a story, cracked a joke, thought through an issue, and fought the good fight better than most anyone else. Studs, you left just as I began to hope you would live forever. Maybe you will.
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This book is not an attempt to produce what America Eats might have been if it had been edited and pieces selected.
When someone says to me, "I went to Chicago last week" or "I went down to Virginia this summer," a question always come into my mind, though I often resist asking it: "What did you eat? Anything interesting?"
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In the throes of the Great Depression, a make-work initiative for authors - called "America Eats" - was created to chronicle the eating habits, traditions, and struggles of local Americans. The Food of a Younger Land unearths this forgotten literary and historical treasure of teh Works Progress Administration and brings it to exuberant 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. MK 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 NY automats to Georgia Coca-Cola parties, from Arkansas possum-eating clubs to Puget Sound salmon feasts, from Choctow funereals to South Carolina barbecues, the WPA writers found Americans in their regional niches, eating an enormous 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. (978-1-59448-865-8)
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