Nice article in the NYT Sunday book review about a Federal Writers Project initiatve which sent out of work writers – Zora Neale Hurston and Eudora Welty among them – around the country in 1940 and 1941 to document American food culture. The planned book, America Eats, was derailed by the second world war and the end of the FWP and was never published. The project was featured in a book last summer, and the entries themselves have just been collated by Mark Kurlansky, and published as The Food of a Younger Land.
From the Times:
Among the topics covered were New York soda-luncheonette slang, Georgia possum cookery, Minnesota lutefisk, geoduck clams in Washington State, Montana’s fried beaver tail, Colorado food superstitions (“You will receive mail from the direction in which your pie is pointing, when it is set down at your place at the table”), a Choctaw “funeral cry” feast and “a Los Angeles sandwich called a taco.”
One of the odder entries, in fact, is a baffling rant against mashed potatoes that, with its over-the-top bluster and narrow scorn (not only should there be a law against serving mashed potatoes, the writer argues, but “a law against even the use of the words on menus, could have been lifted from a present-day blog.”