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America Eats!: On the Road with the WPA - the Fish Fries, Box Supper Socials, and Chittlin' Feasts That Define Real American Food
     

America Eats!: On the Road with the WPA - the Fish Fries, Box Supper Socials, and Chittlin' Feasts That Define Real American Food

by Pat Willard
 

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Pat Willard takes readers on a journey into the regional nooks and crannies of American cuisine where WPA writers-including Eudora Welty, Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison, and Nelson Algren, among countless others-were dispatched in 1935 to document the roots of our diverse culinary cuisine. America Eats!, as the project was entitled, was never published. With the

Overview

Pat Willard takes readers on a journey into the regional nooks and crannies of American cuisine where WPA writers-including Eudora Welty, Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison, and Nelson Algren, among countless others-were dispatched in 1935 to document the roots of our diverse culinary cuisine. America Eats!, as the project was entitled, was never published. With the unpublished WPA manuscript as her guide, Willard visits the sites of American foods past glory to explore whether American traditional cuisine is still as healthy and vibrant today as it was then.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The original America Eats! was written for the WPA by out-of-work writers during the Depression of the 1930s as "an account of group eating as an important American social institution," the development of local, traditional cookery by churches and communities, fairs, festivals, rodeos, fund-raisers, rent parties and the like. It was never completed or published, but when food writer Willard (Secrets of Saffron) found the manuscript in the Library of Congress, she decided to follow the footsteps of the original writers to find what remained of these feasts, or a modern equivalent. The result is an interesting anthology of original WPA writing (most by unknowns, but often lively) and contemporary experience. Willard found Brunswick Stew (historically made with squirrel meat) in North Carolina and Virginia as well as versions of it in Minnesota (booya) and Kentucky (burgoo). Recipes (not always with squirrel) are given. There are still Melon Days in Colorado and Oklahoma, and an Apple Week in Washington State. Fewer homes have kitchen gardens now, and some fair food is distinctly modern (fried Twinkies), but Willard did find a wild-game dinner in Oregon and, of course, barbecue everywhere. Where there were once tobacco farms in traditionally dry Southern counties, Willard, in this engaging book, finds vineyards. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher

“Who but Pat Willard (A Pie Everyday, Secrets of Saffron) could find a tasty morsel in the Library of Congress? The morsel in question is a WPA project in which a number of authors, famous and unknown alike, were sent on the road to cover the communal culinary orgies to be found at the fairs, feasts and festivals so frequently held across the country, whether in the name of God, politics or pie. What Willard cooks up is an even tastier literary stew that includes (aside from squirrel as an ingredient) not only a lively anthology of the WPA work, but and even livelier narrative of revisits, re-samples, re-assessments, and recipes, all intriguingly spiced with cultural history, quirky local dialogue, and wonderful photographs by WPA greats like Dorthea Lange. One of a kind.” —Betsy Burton, The King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah

“[Willard's] lovingly researched book, a tribute to regional cooking, is startling, funny and lip-smackingly good.” —More magazine

“It's about time somebody wrote this…Willard blows the dust off, reprinting the original pieces along with her own revisits to the places and events from long ago. The result is new attention to an old project that gives a lively glimpse into how we eat together.” —Charlotte Observer

“Engaging… Willard's enthusiasm is contagious, her project enviable.” —Arizona Republic

“Wonderful descriptions and vignettes of American group eating - the food and its preparation, and the social life and customs surrounding it - written by members of the Federal Writers' Project in the late 1930s and early '40s. To this, the author has added her own thoughtful accounts as she travels across the land to discover present incarnations of those earlier feasts.” —Boston Globe

“The spirit of camaraderie, and the determination to not let penury rob everyday existence of the companionable joys of food, are moving and instructive 70 years on.” —Atlantic Monthly

“America Eats offers an unfettered view of the lives of ordinary folk, not unlike going out with good friends or long-lost relatives for a taste of country life.” —Christian Science Monitor

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608196661
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
01/15/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,154,025
File size:
5 MB

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Meet the Author

Pat Willard is the author of Pie Every Day, A Soothing Broth, and Secrets of Saffron, which was nominated for an IACP award for the Best Literary Cookbook. She's written for Bon Appetit, Ladies Home Journal, American Heritage, and the Los Angeles Times. She lives in Brooklyn.
Pat Willard is the author of Pie Every Day, A Soothing Broth, and Secrets of Saffron, which was nominated for an IACP award for the Best Literary Cookbook. She's written for Bon Appetit, Ladies Home Journal, American Heritage, and the Los Angeles Times. She lives in Brooklyn.

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