Kurlansky’s The Food of a Younger Land takes us back to the food of a younger America.
Before the national highway system brought the country closer together,
before chain restaurants brought uniformity, and before the Frigidaire
meant that frozen food could be stored for longer, the nation’s food was
seasonal, regional, and traditional. It helped to form the distinct
character, attitudes, and customs of those who ate it.
While Kurlansky was researching The Big Oyster in the Library of
Congress, he stumbled across the archives for the America Eats project
and discovered this wonderful window into our national past. In the
1930s, with the country gripped by the Great Depression and millions of
Americans struggling to get by, Franklin D. Roosevelt created the
Federal Writers’ Project under the New Deal to give work to artists and
writers, such as John Cheever and Richard Wright. 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 was
abandoned in the early 1940s and never completed.
The Food of a Younger Nation unearths this forgotten literary and
historical treasure. Mark Kurlansky’s brilliant compilation of these
historic pieces, combined with authentic recipes, anecdotes, and
his own musings and analysis, evokes a bygone era when Americans had
never heard of fast food and the grocery store was a thing of the
future. Download and start listening now!