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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, Whenby Mark Kurlansky
Synopses & Reviews
From the New York Times bestselling author who "powerfully demonstrates the defining role food plays in history and culture" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution).
In the throes of the Great Depression, a make-work initiative for authors — called "America Eats" — was created by the WPA to chronicle the eating habits, traditions, and struggles of local Americans. Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt and Cod, unearths this forgotten literary treasure, chronicling a bygone era when Americans had never heard of fast food or grocery superstores. Kurlansky brings together the WPA contributions — featuring New York automats and Georgia Coca-Cola parties, Maine lobsters and Montana beaver tails — and brilliantly showcases them with authentic recipes, anecdotes, and photographs.
"A genuine culinary and historical keepsake: in the late 1930s the WPA farmed out a writing project with the ambition of other New Deal programs: an encyclopedia of American food and food traditions from coast-to-coast similar to the federal travel guides. After Pearl Harbor, the war effort halted the project for good; the book was never published, and the files were archived in the Library of Congress. Food historian Kurlansky (Cod; The Big Oyster) brought the unassembled materials to light and created this version of the guide that never was. In his abridged yet remarkable version, he presents what some of the thousands of writers (among them Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston and Nelson Algren) found: America, its food, its people and its culture, at the precise moment when modernism and progress were kicking into gear. Adhering to the administrators' original organization, the book divides regionally; within each section are entries as specific as 'A California Grunion Fry,' and as general and historical as the one on 'Sioux and Chippewa Food.' Though we've become a fast-food nation, this extraordinary collection — at once history, anthropology, cookbook, almanac and family album — 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 (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[V]ivid and playful dispatches from pre-interstate, pre-fast-food America, when food was local and cuisine regional. Kurlansky selected zesty writings, factual and imaginative, describing barbecues, fries, and feasts....Fun, illuminating, and provocative..." Booklist
From the New York Times-bestselling author of Salt and Cod comes a remarkable portrait of American food before World War II.
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.
About the Author
Mark Kurlansky is a New York Times-bestselling and James A. Beard Award-winning author. He is the recipient of a Bon Appétit American Food and Entertaining Award for Food Writer of the Year, and the Glenfiddich Food and Drink Award for Food Book of the Year. He lives in New York City. Author website: markkurlansky.com.
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