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Download 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 Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample 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 Nations Food Was Seasonal, Regional, and Traditional---from the Lost WPA Files Audiobook, by Mark Kurlansky Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,045 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mark Kurlansky Narrator: Stephen Hoye Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2009 ISBN: 9781400181698
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Mark Kurlansky's new book 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, photos, 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!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Let’s raise our glasses to author Mark Kurlansky…What Kurlansky serves is a five-course literary look at our culinary culture back in the days of two-lane highways.”

    Boston Globe

  • Vivid and playful dispatches from pre-interstate, pre-fast-food America, when food was local and cuisine regional.... Fun, illuminating, and provocative. Booklist
  • “This extraordinary collection provides a vivid and revitalizing sense of the rural and regional characteristics and distinctions that we’ve lost and can find again here.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “There’s no traditional story, just colors, smells, and flavors transmitted through audio. Listeners can be assured they’ll be hungry during most of the delicious feasts described.”

    AudioFile

  • “Vivid and playful dispatches from pre-interstate, pre-fast food America, when food was local and cuisine regional…Fun, illuminating, and provocative.”

    Booklist

  • An AudioFile Earphones Award winner
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • An Oprah’s Summer Reading List selection

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caroline | 2/20/2014

    " An interesting anthropological read. I especially liked the amusing chapter that gave the translations of restaurant/line cook lingo like the origins of the term "86." I made a chess pie which was a popular dish from my home state of VA. It's a dish that's made with only a few ingredients, staples that you already have in your pantry. I had only eaten before in the Amish country. Surprisingly, it turned out pretty good. It's a shame that the volume was never published b/c of WWII. At times it was choppy b/c some regions weren't as well represented. But still a good picture of that period in time before American fast food. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nick Klagge | 2/11/2014

    " I had high hopes for this book, given my love of local and homemade food, but I was fairly disappointed. It seemed reasonably clear why these pieces had never been published back when they were created. Most are not that well written, and although it was interesting to read about the different foods, they were almost entirely bereft of characters--which, interestingly, is also a criticism I just read of Kurlansky's own new fiction work. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lynne | 2/5/2014

    " I love the idea of this book. An abandoned WPA project discovered and researched by Kurlansky, then published virtually untouched with essays added by Kurlansky himself. And it is interesting to see how regional foods came into their own. But the book becomes dry at times, due in large part, I think, to the fact that these essays were published in their original form, which in the best case were hastily completed and, at worst, simply a listing of ingredients. But I feel the book's true merit lies in Kurlansky's research and commitment to the project. And for that, I encourage readers to pick this up, read a bit, and discover the true roots of your favorite food. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Victoria | 2/1/2014

    " Wonderful tour through the native food of all parts of our country. I learned how Hush Puppies for their name, why I always call the noon meal dinner and how crabs from California stack up to Maryland. The best part is hearing time and time again about how cooking brought people and communities together. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary Addison-lamb | 1/25/2014

    " I really enjoyed reading the WPA food stories. It is a slow read because it is just one of those books you pick up on occasion to read a chapter or two. Not as compelling as Twain's Feast but interesting!. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Barb | 1/22/2014

    " Good, but would have liked more interpretation and depth. Pity the book that all this research covers was never written. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Betsy | 1/21/2014

    " I listened to this on audio and really didn't care for the narrator who sounded like a 1940's radio announcer (which may have been appropriate given the subject matter). It significantly impacted my impression of the book. I had really looked forward to reading to this, but I could barely get through listening to it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mckinley | 1/20/2014

    " Trolled an old public works project and assembled essays about foods in several regions in America. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 1/19/2014

    " A fascinating glimpse into an earlier era. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda Schaefer | 12/20/2013

    " Interesting to read not only what people in different parts of the country eat, but also what they ate in the early/mid part of the 20th century. Kurlansky's supporting materials were also great. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Francine | 12/8/2013

    " Wow, this was a good book...the introduction should be read in history classes and sociology classes in both high schools and colleges. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 D Syman | 11/25/2013

    " Enjoyable, and I think the author did a good job of using the notes and letting the WPA speak for itself. I'm not a "foodie" but those interested in America/ American history should find it worth a read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mike | 11/23/2013

    " I'm a fan of Mark Kurlansky's books and he's put together a very interesting collection of WPA food writing here. Amazing to see what people ate and how they ate. Also of note: people complaining about the industrial food system. In the 1930s. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cindy | 9/19/2013

    " I never finished. It's one of those non-fiction books that failed to hold my interest. I will probably thumb through it some more, but I don't think I'll ever finish it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christina | 11/12/2012

    " This book really made me think about how our country as given up so much of it's true food community in favor of fast, prepackaged and shelf stable food. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynne | 9/23/2012

    " I enjoyed this book but I think that it would be a far better book to read rather than listen to. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 9/14/2012

    " I LOVED the introduction to this book. I would have enjoyed an entire book written from this perspective about the WPA. I found the actual content of the book marginally interesting. Perhaps a different format would have made the material more accessible? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 8/22/2012

    " I should probably mention at the outset that I have a culinary degree and love to read about all things food. This book made me want to go back in time when people ate real food with a huge sense of community. I don't know that a non-foodie would have enjoyed this book as much as a foodie would. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dana | 11/17/2011

    " If you have any interest in cooking and/or american history, read this book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Noladishu | 5/10/2011

    " Best part of the book is the extended introduction. Just skimmed the rest. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Arie | 4/2/2011

    " more of a recipe book than history of food in the USA. boring. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 1/31/2011

    " Interesting to read not only what people in different parts of the country eat, but also what they ate in the early/mid part of the 20th century. Kurlansky's supporting materials were also great. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hnewberg | 1/27/2011

    " The period writing is abysmal but a nice concentration of anthropological tidbits about turn of the century eating in the us. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Krista | 1/25/2011

    " Really fascinating--I learned a lot from this book, and am rather wistful for a time when roadside food meant home cooked biscuits instead of the golden arches! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jay | 1/8/2011

    " Interesting history but it did not grab me the way I had hoped it would. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 11/13/2010

    " I should probably mention at the outset that I have a culinary degree and love to read about all things food. This book made me want to go back in time when people ate real food with a huge sense of community. I don't know that a non-foodie would have enjoyed this book as much as a foodie would. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patrick | 11/9/2010

    " Kurlansky mostly adds a few comments on top of the existing manuscripts. His comments and editorializing are valuable, but maybe not as significant an analysis of the material as might have been hoped. Maybe that's not the point, though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eva | 11/7/2010

    " the fact that i found this book incredibly interesting might prove that i should have been a history major. that or born in the early 1900s. "

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About the Author
Author Mark KurlanskyMark Kurlansky is the New York Times bestselling and James A. Beard Award—winning author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, Salt: A World History, 1968: The Year That Rocked the World, and The Basque History of the World, as well as Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue (his debut novel), and several other books.
About the Narrator

Stephen Hoye has worked as a professional actor in London and Los Angeles for more than thirty years. Trained at Boston University and the Guildhall in London, he has acted in television series and six feature films and has appeared in London’s West End.