What do Americans really eat? We have our regional assumptions: clam chowder, steak, Tex-Mex, fried stuff. But what if we documented it for future generations? That’s the idea behind the Federal Writers Project hiring out-of-work writers, like the wonderful Zora Neale Hurston, most famous for her book “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and Eudora Welty to archive regional specialties during the Great Depression. Sadly, the America Eats project was never completed.
Mark Kurlansky pieced together an anthology out of the works he found. In his book “Food of a Younger Land,” he explores each corner of the United States and what home cooking means there.
Reading this collection spurred the idea to document the food we eat today and the food we will eat tomorrow. The American collective palate changes with each wave of immigrants bringing new spices and flavor combinations to the dinner table. For new immigrants, it serves as a reminder of home and for everyone else it reminds us that we are not that different.
I look forward to connecting over our shared appreciation for good food and community. Please leave recipe recommendations, questions or comments in the section below.
Author Eudora Welty’s Mint Julep
Before she became a celebrated short-story writer and novelist, Eudora Welty collected stories and recipes for the Federal Writers Project “America Eats.” Here’s her mint julep recipe, by way of Mrs. T.C. Billups of Columbus, Miss.:
- Have silver goblet thoroughly chilled.
- Take half lump sugar and dissolve in tablespoon water.
- Take single leaf mint and bruise it between fingers, dropping into dissolved sugar.
- Strain after stirring.
- Fill the goblet with crushed ice, to capacity.
- Pour in all the bourbon whiskey the goblet will hold.
- Put a spring of mint in the top of the goblet, for bouquet.
- Let goblet stand until FROSTED.
- Serve rapidly.