The Food Of A Younger Land
Edited and illustrated by Mark Kurlansky
Riverhead Books; 397 pages; $27.95
Seasonal, local, traditional. Before a certain period in time, these were the only options. There were no cross-country distribution networks, no fast food chains. And vast countries like the US had true regional cuisine.
Author Mark Kurlansky came across the archives for a book that was never published. Meant to be entitled America Eats, the book was to be an anthology of works produced by the regional offices of the Federal Writers Project. Created in the mid-30s during the depression, the FWP was part of a make-work project to help provide some semblance of an income to people in the arts (imagine that happening today!). The FWP created a variety of regional guidebooks during its run, some are still in use today, and included notable authors such as Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston and Nelson Algren.
America Eats was abandoned as the FWP wound down after the US joined the second world war. Submissions and files were gathered up – some, sadly, are lost, and nothing was ever done with them until Kurlansky stumbled upon them.