Thursday, April 13, 2017

Review: A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe

Title: A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression
Authors: Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe 
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: April 16, 2016
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "The decade-long Great Depression, a period of shifts in the country’s political and social landscape, forever changed the way America eats. Before 1929, America’s relationship with food was defined by abundance. But the collapse the economy, in both urban and rural America, left a quarter of all Americans out of work and undernourished—shattering long-held assumptions about the limitlessness of the national larder."

My Two Cents:

"A Square Meal" explores the food and the food culture during the Great Depression in the United States. The Great Depression fundamentally changed the way that Americans thought about and interacted with food. Food was, of course, rationed and individuals didn't have control over what kind of food they got many times. People were expected to do more with less and turn food that may not have been the best into meals for their family.

This book doesn't only explore what kind of food people made but the chain reaction set off by food scarcity. It was the Great Depression that first got the government involved in food relief for its own people. Prior to that, local communities were left to care for their own with what they had. The Great Depression was so wide ranging and hurt communities far and wide that first states started to step in and then the federal government. There were all sorts of logistics that various organizations and levels of government had to grapple with in order to make sure that people were able to get some sort of relief.

In times of food scarcity, you make do with what you get. The book explores a lot of what housewives did in order to stretch their rations. Let's just say that creativity was key! One of my favorite parts of the book was the recipes included and those talked about. There were tons of cookbooks created during this time period in order to cater to the home economist who was charged with feeding and nourishing their family.

In this day and age, I am lucky enough to be able to go to the grocery store, buy whatever I want, cook it, and feed my family. We have tons of choices. This book made me appreciate that so much more! This is a quirky look at an interesting history and it's definitely off the beaten path!



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