TASTE OF THE NATION:The New Deal Search for America's Food

Paperback | June 15, 2016

byCamille Begin

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During the Depression, the Federal Writers' Project (FWP) dispatched scribes to sample the fare at group eating events like church dinners, political barbecues, and clambakes. Its America Eats project sought nothing less than to sample, and report upon, the tremendous range of foods eaten across the United States.
 
Camille Begin shapes a cultural and sensory history of New Deal-era eating from the FWP archives. From "ravioli, the diminutive derbies of pastries, the crowns stuffed with a well-seasoned paste" to barbeque seasoning that integrated "salt, black pepper, dried red chili powder, garlic, oregano, cumin seed, and cayenne pepper" while "tomatoes, green chili peppers, onions, and olive oil made up the sauce", Begin describes in mouth-watering detail how Americans tasted their food. They did so in ways that varied, and varied widely, depending on race, ethnicity, class, and region. Begin explores how likes and dislikes, cravings and disgust operated within local sensory economies that she culls from the FWP’s vivid descriptions, visual cues, culinary expectations, recipes and accounts of restaurant meals. She illustrates how nostalgia, prescriptive gender ideals, and racial stereotypes shaped how the FWP was able to frame regional food cultures as "American."

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During the Depression, the Federal Writers' Project (FWP) dispatched scribes to sample the fare at group eating events like church dinners, political barbecues, and clambakes. Its America Eats project sought nothing less than to sample, and report upon, the tremendous range of foods eaten across the United States.   Camille Begin shape...

Camille Begin is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Sensory Studies at Concordia University in Montreal.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:June 15, 2016Publisher:UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0252081706

ISBN - 13:9780252081705

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"Gives us the best of both worlds: sharp, scholarly, critique, essential to solid research and good teaching; and rich, sensory, description, conveyed with exquisite writing, where you can smell the acrid smoke from the wood stove, hear the clatter of the cutlery and the screeching of the dining room chairs. It is a text I relished and learned much from, about American gustatory nationalism, and its relationship to race and gender in New Deal food writing."--Krishnendu Ray, author of The Ethnic Restaurateur