Monday, July 25


Back when I was in grad school in Southern Studies, during the late 1990s, I did some work -- at the suggestion of Tom Rankin, then a professor at Ole Miss, now a professor at Duke University -- with the America Eats project.

Begun in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration, America Eats was envisioned as a catalogue of American food habits. Long before the term foodways came into use, the America Eats project dispersed documentarians throughout our nation. They were charged with capturing how Americans defined themselves in the kitchen and at the table.

America Eats was disbanded before it could be completed. In the intervening 70-odd years, a number of academics and writers have utilized America Eats manuscripts, including Mark Kurlanksky, who compiled the book, The Food of a Younger Land.

Earlier this month, that Depression-era work, and other governmental work dealing with the American diet, got a new airing by way of a restaurant, America Eats Tavern, opened by Jose Andres in DC, and an exhibit, "What's Cooking Uncle Sam" now on display at the National Archives, also in DC.