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Taste of the Nation: the New Deal Search for America’s Food is now out in the Studies in Sensory History Series published by the University of Illinois Press.
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.
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
Who knew that modern food writing originated in the New Deal’s Federal Writers’ Project? Camille Begin convincingly shows how the FWP’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.’