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The Food of a Younger Land    by Mark Kurlansky order for
Food of a Younger Land
by Mark Kurlansky
Order:  USA  Can
Riverhead, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Deb Kincaid

To put American writers back to work during the Depression years, the Works Progress Administration created the Federal Writers' Project. Administrator Katherine Kellock came up with a project to record food and eating traditions throughout America. The project was titled America Eats. The US was sectioned into Northwest, Far West, Middle West, South, Southwest, and Northeast. Then, regional writers contributed essays spotlighting meals, history, and cultural influences in their area. But, the project was never completed, the essays stored away. Nearly seven decades later, author Mark Kurlansky gives a collection of them life in his book, The Food of a Younger Land.

Snicker over New York luncheonette jargon (burn the British means 'an order of toasted English Muffins'); mix up a pot of Arkansas' Squirrel Mulligan; or throw a traditional Nebraska Buffalo barbecue - for the how-to, see page 212. Ever wonder where the name hush puppies came from? How about trying Vermont vegetable hash, served with ketchup? Recipe on page 31. Maybe you'll want to wash it all down with some Mississippi Persimmon Beer. Before the ubiquitous days of today, if you wanted an authentic taco, you had to go to Los Angeles to get it; and ravioli? Folks in California had no clue. Food was regional and authentic, and Kurlansky helps us appreciate the wonder of that.

Kurlansky is an award-winning food writer and New York Times bestselling author. In 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, he gives us not only some quirky recipes, but provides the historical and cultural context that captures the culinary habits of everyday people and their everyday food.

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