by Jane Ziegelman & Andrew Coe [973.917 Zie]
Did you know: Bread lines existed in New York City long before the Depression; Spanish Rice doesn’t really have anything to do with Spain; Home Extension Agents in Iowa were all women prior to 1930; Spring Fever is an actual physical malady; “mystery” loaves made from assorted leftovers were a common food and budget stretcher long before the 1950s; Milkwheato, Milkoato and Milkorno were actual cereal products, first introduced in 1933?
Writing partners and spouses Coe and Ziegelman have served up an informative plateful of US food history with this look at the specific period of the 1930s and early 1940s and assorted points before and after. Sifting through what must have been a mountain of materials, they have come up with a readable dissection of the changing of American eating habits over time and what factors influenced it. Plus, there are a lot of culinary trivia tidbits thrown in.
Relief/Subsistence programs, whether local, state or national, were predicated on the assumption that they would meet _temporary_ needs. Due to the combination of bad weather, a stricken economy, and poor administration and/or structure of some programs in the between-the-wars era, these needs went on for years. People receiving food assistance had to deal with the stigma of dependency — embarrassment, restrictions that seemed arbitrary or severe, and the “depressing routine of organized charity”. At the same time, Home Economics, most of whose practitioners were women, came to the fore and was a boon to many of the challenges that so many people, especially housewives, were facing.
The authors, unavoidably, also touch on the politics of the times, from President Hoover’s penchant for having gourmet meals in the White House while hewing to a charity-begins-at-home conservatism in public, to Gen. MacArthur’s [yes, THAT Gen. MacArthur] forcible removal of the “Bonus Army” encampment of World War I veterans who had journeyed to Washington DC to request better aid. Interspersed throughout the narrative are song lyrics apropos to the times and situations detailed.
Over all, this is an educational and eye-opening examination of a pivotal period in our nation’s food and nutrition history as well as our general socio-economic-political past. “Eleven-cent cotton and forty-cent meat, How in the world can a poor man eat?”
[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The National Cookbook by Sheila Hibben (1932) — link connects to a digitized version of this classic cookbook online, and America Eats! : On the Road with the WPA : The Fish Fries, Box Supper Socials, and Chitlin Feasts That Define Real American Food (not currently in LCL — try our InterLibrary Loan service!)]
[ official A Square Meal web site ] | [ publisher’s official Jane Ziegelman web site ]
Recommended by Becky W.C.
Walt Branch Library
Walt Branch Library
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