A Square Meal

A Square Meal

A Culinary History of the Great Depression

Book - 2016
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Before 1929, America's relationship with food was defined by abundance. But the collapse of the economy left a quarter of all Americans out of work and undernourished. In 1933, for the first time in American history, the federal government assumed some of the responsibility for feeding its citizens. 'Home economists' brought science into the kitchen and imposed their vision of a sturdy, utilitarian cuisine on the American dinner table. Ziegelman and Coe provide an in-depth exploration of the greatest food crisis the nation has ever faced and how it transformed America's culinary culture.
Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062216410
Branch Call Number: 641.5973 Zi
Description: x, 314 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Additional Contributors: Coe, Andrew (Andy)


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Dec 21, 2017

A very interesting narrative of our eating habits as a nation during trying times. The husband and wife team of authors take us through a number of culinary nooks and crannies between the meat and potatoes diet around the time of World War 1, through new urban habits of the "efficiency apartment" and cafe dining; breadlines, hobo culture, and the variety of governmental and charity relief efforts; the growth of home economics and new recipes to palatize different "emergency ingredients. Along the way, we hear surprising testaments from Roosevelt on the threat of people becoming dependent on governmental programs (!) and first Family culinary leadership (Hemingway was warned by friends to eat first before going to the White House). Throughout the narrative, we are treated to recipes, ideas, and excerpts from both cookbooks and other popular literature ("Ladies Home Journal," "Good Housekeeping"), and images of a national challenged by circumstance but ever innovating.

Sep 13, 2017

Husband and wife food writers, Coe and Ziegelman, take a broad sweep of dietary habits of Americans, from the supply lines of WWI to the outbreak of WWII. The book demonstrates that not all people benefited from the "Roaring Twenties" and "starvation diets" were devised to deal with the nutrition needs of the most poor. It then moves on to the Thirties and how people survived on meagre food supplies - egged on by "home economists" who were charged with coming up with scientific means to ensure people stayed fed properly. At the same time came the revolution of processed and frozen foods, the simplification of the refrigerator with much smaller compressors, and the dishwasher. Too, the Roosevelt Administration came up with make work programs - but more importantly three things that remain with us today - food stamps, free school lunches and the "recommended" daily foods guide, the last of which is a concept adopted by many other countries in different forms. Then the authors make the stunning revelation that when Selective Service was launched in 1940, millions of men flunked the medical, due to malnutrition during the Depression. Finally, the book discusses how the pushback against processed foods led to a Renaissance of regional cooking. A well researched book written in layperson's terms. Highly - uh - recommended.


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