Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Depression-Era Foodies

Slate's Laura Shapiro has reviewed a new book by Mark Kurlansky called The Food of a Younger Land. I learned something new from her review:

Among the fortunate Americans who managed to find employment during the Great Depression was a Florida woman named Rose Shepherd — or, as she often signed her work, "Rose Shepherd, Writer."

We don't know much else about Rose Shepherd, Writer, but we do know how she paid the rent in those years: She applied to the Federal Writers Project, an economic-recovery program that actually included writing under the rubric of useful work and paid people to do it . . .

. . . late in the 1930s, she started to get a different sort of assignment. Suddenly they wanted her to write about food. The project was called America Eats, and it was going to be a collection of essays on community food events from coast to coast — the first book of American food writing, in other words, though nobody used that term, because there was no such genre.

It sounds like Kurlansky has written an interesting book.

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