A Taste of the Nation: Regional Cuisines in the New Deal Era
September 20, 2017
4:00pm to 5:30pm
Hatcher Graduate Library, Gallery (Room 100)
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.
Dr. Camille Bégin 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. Bégin 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.”
U-M Library’s Special Collections Library is home to the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive, which includes a wealth of cookbooks and ephemera documenting foodways in 1930s America.