Taste of the Nation
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Taste of the Nation : The New Deal Search for America's Food

4.5 (2 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

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."show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 264 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 22.86mm | 539.77g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252040252
  • 9780252040252

Review quote

"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 "Who knew that modern food writing originated in the New Deal's Federal Writers' Project? Camille Begin convincingly shows how the FWP (TM)s sensory concerns linked food to race and place. Her lively account recognizes the importance of food writing in drawing the boundaries that transform modern culinary nationalism, ethnicity and regionalism into 'sensory economies.'"--Donna Gabaccia, author of We Are What We Eat: Ethnic Food and the Making of Americans A fascinating archive on how American eating shifted during the years of the Depression. It provides a kind of hidden history of early-twentieth-century eating, documenting the role of different non-white middle class groups in shaping the American palate in ways that continue to resonate.--David E. Sutton, author of The Restaurants Book: Ethnographies of Where We Eat "Recommended."--Choiceshow more

About Camille Begin

Camille Begin is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Sensory Studies at Concordia University in Montreal.show more

Rating details

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