During the Depression, the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) dispatched writers 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, describing in mouth-watering detail how Americans tasted their food. 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 also illustrates how nostalgia, prescriptive gender ideals, and racial stereotypes shaped how the FWP was able to frame regional food cultures as “American.”