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tv   Mark Kurlansky The Food of a Younger Land  CSPAN  October 21, 2017 4:08pm-5:06pm EDT

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reception is at 5:30 p.m. at the rotunda. we will see you tonight. [chatter] announcer: this concludes today's live coverage of the historical park civil war symposium from petersburg, virginia. you can watch the coverage today on join us tomorrow and had :00 a.m. for more of the symposium. you are watching american history tv, c-span3. next on history bookshelf, mark kurlansky talks about his book "the food of a younger land: a portrait of american food, before the national highway system, before chain restaurants, and before frozen food, when the nation's food was seasonal." he examined the "america eats"
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writing project to document writing habits during the -- eating habits during the 1930's. it is about one hour. [applause] folks, i want you to go easy on mark. he has had about 14 interviews today. very popular guy, radio, tv, not much of the man left here. [laughter] rick: i wanted to set it up. and i think a little bit of my thunder was stolen already. calledlatest gem, it is "the food of a younger land." a younger land, what does younger land mean? it depends on how far you want to go back. if you are anthropologists, they think the diet went to hell about 7000 years ago when humans
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stoppedforaging, hunting and gathering, and had a diet of minerals and vitamins and amino acids perfectly in tune with the seasons and went to a lower grade of eating called agriculture, with its grains and so forth. or you could go to a younger land, back to the late 19th century in philadelphia where they were already fishing out wasters and the shad and the catfish. to the catfish dinners here, catfish dinners all over town. and even the sturgeon fisheries which indelaware bay, the 1880s, actually produced the ofld's mightiest share caviar, which i don't think most folks know. mark i am sure knows. or how about 1902.
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that is when the automat debuted, assembly line eating for an industrializing city. you could almost hear the fast food movement revving up in the background. so it was not long after that, after the world war, but for the first second, before the national highway system, chain restaurants and frozen foods, that mark kurlansky's younger land held sway. the real genius of this book, which i absolutely find a treat, is that he lets the voices of that moment tell about it and witness it. firsthand. so you get rants about the lost art of mashing potatoes properly, about the incessant fakery of the new york literary tea. and we can talk about some of this, tales of western land
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fries, which is a rather euphemistic term for what was going on. tussles in kentucky about how to make mint juleps. and reports from a magical land far beyond the reach of jim crow that was called the what did the. they were collected by pollitz, inspiring novels. like saulng novelists bellow and others that we can talk about among them. and that most pitiful species on the planet, out of work newspapermen. [laughter] hired by the depression era federal writers' project. kurlansky's own works, the oyster, salt, and many others and his iconic landmark book, history at its finest, the last one although about how the
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singular fish, the card the , spirit of discovery and liberty and in the cane fields of the andes by contrast, a brutal slave economy. this latest book is something else. it is a rough draft of history. curiously light, i thought, on lamentations about the depression for the time that these stories were collected. and, rich with wit. he might give us a little sampling of some of the new york luncheonette jargon. and alternately affectionate and unsparing essay called the short history of the american diet by the novelist, nelson of iran. that might be a good place to start, because it is where the masterful mark kurlansky started, but let's welcome him one more time today national constitution center. [applause] so, why don't you tell us
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a little bit about how you got into this project. i think it was the rabbit hole that was nelson's papers. mark: yes, there were five regions that the federal writers' project divided up into, and each region was supposed to have a central essay, and the person assigned to the central essay for the midwest was nelson. these were 100, 120 page essays. i only give excerpts of them. about for some of the younger folks, what were some of his works? rick: -- mark: "walk on the wild side." he was the first recipient of the national book award. and he tended to write about sort of the seedy side of life. a wonderful writer.
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very original. and a copy of this essay -- there is a copy of this essay in the archives, but there's also a copy of this essay in his papers. when he died, the university of iowa ended up with these papers and they published the algoran essay as a book, which they "america eats," published i think in 1993. and that is when i first realized that there was such a thing. of course, actually there , wasn't. but there was supposed to be. well wpa, thought, works so they
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do not know what to do. they don't -- dump in the basement of the library of congress. so i called the library of congress and i said, do you have papers on a federal writers' project called "america eats"? they said yeah, yeah we have boxes of them. so i went looked at them and it was kind of a wonderful experience, looking through these boxes, because it was like opening a time capsule in 1940. they were all on onionskin. remember onionskin, the thin paper? rick: i even remember typewriters. that is how old i am. [laughter] all carbon were copies. the kind of carbon copies on onionskin. and a lot of them, a lot of these manuscripts probably, i was the first person to read them because they never got to the editing process. rick: i want you to stop right there for a second, just to give these folks the taste of some of the just pure jewels that there
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in this collection that mark has compiled, i just xeroxed one little passage from nelson algoran's essay, and if you would be kind enough to read it, this is about the white settlers ' first encounters with the native indians, broadly speaking in the plains, in the midwestern part of the united states. so, in the first sentence, the people he is talking about are the white settlers, so there's just a few graphs here. and, just listen to this language. at least i was moved by it. so in all means of providing grain and
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against the future he was more , thoughtful than the indian. in the killing of wild game, he was prodigal. before the homesteaders had come, the great clouds of wild pigeons were gone, the buffalo were going, and the wilderness streams were fish dry. and killing he surpassed any savage. imaginatively as he might go dancing. for the anticipated pleasure and the relating of it after the slaughter was done. until the plains were littered with buffalo carcasses, touched only by the fingers of the wind. he decimated the indian lands, then went on to destroy the food of his own sons, making square dance songs all the while. hot the buzzard, ow, andzard show the cr we all rallied the brown of the
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buffalo. it was not until the advent of the homesteaders with all the caution that domestication brings, that some's was put to the destruction. by that time, the indian was eating government rations for tins. in a divided time the war between the states, the whites had a modified the indians' natural diet in more ways than one. in fact, it just about put a stop to it all together. rick: that is just the kind of writing that algoran was doing. now, he was a professional writer. mark: at the beginning of his career. you know, the federal writers' project was all kinds of people. the principal requirement to get into the federal writers' project was that you had to show you are broke. that you had no money and you had no job. so, they hired some people who were somewhat experienced riders writers. they hired a lot of young writers who ended up to be mainstays of american literature.
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i mean richard wright and ralph , ellison and saul bellow and john cheever and kenneth rexroth, the original poet who was the head of the san francisco federal writers' project. and they also, as you said, it was a time like today when a lot of newspapers were being closed, so they hired newspaper editors and newspaper reporters and also secretaries. they really liked to get secretaries because there was a lot of typing to be done. and they hired people who had always wanted to be writers, and they hired some schoolteachers, and they hired people who didn't have any idea what they were doing in a writers project, but it was a job. and these manuscripts reflected
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that. i mean, there is a wide range -- writing like this algoran piece. there was a large quantity of manuscripts that i immediately eliminated as unreadable. and, then there were things, there were people who were just sending in information because none of these manuscripts were going to be used. they were going to be turned into pieces like the algoran piece, they had five writers who were going to write five large essays using the information that they had gathered. and then there were going to be two pieces accompanying these large essays. and a lot of people wanted to get those pieces because it was the only byline in the book. you could see some people are really going over the top,
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trying to get it. there were short stories and there were poems. is,avorite of which wieners."eats their rick: that bears repeating. loss to literature. it sounds like it is from jack and jill magazine. by the way, what was a threat to newspapers back and that day? an evil thing called radio. switch off that public radio. mark: right, right. and a lot of people said that they would have started it if it was not for the federal program. rick: one person said it stopped him from suicide. -- algorbably al green an said these things.
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rick: so, here's the question. so, are we right now with all of these journalists and so forth walking the streets ripe for another federal writers' project, or expanding on that, do you see any parallels between the time when fdr, and not simply for writers, but when fdr was trying to get people back to moment -- he obama mark: it is a totally different thing. back then, you had a newly elected, a charismatic democrat replacing a very unpopular republican. [laughter] economica moment of collapse. [laughter] mark: and the president decided that he wanted an economic stimulus package, which the republicans oppose. d. rick: that is really different. i am picking up on that. mark: what was different about it, you know, and obama probably did study this, but he missed something important.
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and that is that roosevelt got a bill through congress, budgeting these projects. and it didn't specify what the projects were. it just said, there would be many small projects. and you know he got the budget , for it. and then all of these things, the wpa was never voted by congress. it was created by an executive order. the federal writers' project was an executive order. there were a lot of people in congress who hated these things. congress investigated the federal writers' project. the un-american activities committee, to see if they were communists. rick: which they were. mark: which they were. [laughter] right. and the constant accusations of boondoggles, my favorite of which was that federal writers' project did a translation into
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yiddish of the song of songs from the agent hebrew into , yiddish. and somebody, a congressman who clearly wasn't jewish, he looked at one and he looked at the boondoggle issaid the same language. beautiful. rick: let's talk about this. we talked on the phone about this a little bit. and i was fascinated. you are around a contemporary mind. you grew up in new england, a bit like growing up in massachusetts. i guess you were down in the hartford area. and you may be caught the last bit of, you know before the , interstate highway system, before the chain restaurants morethere was a little ity in the food.
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so, tell us a little bit about some of the things you remember. mark: i came from a family of six. we had four kids. and the six of us would pile into a huge buick every summer. this car was so big that it come -- so big that it would comfortably sit six people. we would travel around america. we would go out west. if you come from new england and go through the west coast, on the way out and the way back you have pretty much done it. and i remember the excitement of discovering new food. the food was different everywhere you went. and, discovering mexican food in the southwest, eating my first beach in california. discovering aplets in washington. just a lot of food experience. i remember two things that really struck me. ,hat as you travel west
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breakfasts got larger and larger. and the other thing which was hamburgers get more and more-- on them. where i come from, with a hamburger you would just get a hamburger and then you'd get into the cheeseburgers with bacon and by the time you are in , california you have this whole salad on top of your hamburger. bun: sometimes not even a anymore. mark: yes. so there was this, there was this sense of the regions. there wasn't much fast food. there was howard johnson's, which my father claims to have worked in the original howard johnson's. he was from quincy in south boston, where the howard johnson's began. he claims to a actually worked -- to have actually worked for howard. rick: your father did not introduce the clam strip, did he? mark: i have heard of it.
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what is it really? is it squid? rick: it could be squid, it could be pollack. mark: it has no belly. i am going to boston tomorrow. we will get into the belly discussion. this is serious in the mainland. -- serious stuff in new england. well, if you pay a premium at women's -- woodman's, one of these fried claims places to get the belly clams. mark: otherwise known as the clambered to go. to which part of the , anatomy you are after. one of the things that come around here obviously we have -- soup and we had catfish and waffles. we still occasionally, you will
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see sightings -- i don't know what you folks have seen it, chicken salad with fried oysters on the same platter as a real philadelphia traditional thing, pepper hash on hot sausage maybe with a fish cake. it is so pervasive. but then they sort of like that out a little bit. mark: that is the difference. most of the things that in this -- that are in this book probably do exist somewhere. if i picked the most obscure one and said, on call-in radio, this fish does not exist anymore , five minutes and someone would call in and say my sister makes , it. but what is different is that this was the food of america, stuff wheres the you have to be a detective to find it. rick: it is interesting. in philadelphia in south , philadelphia, cheesemakers who make the ricotta in the basement and sell it on the avenue, or they still bake bread over what. -- over wood.
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you are right unless you have a aretive guide, these folks -- mark: it is very hard for an out-of-town are anywhere in theica to go in and hold local food. rick: and you can buy pennsylvania dutch pies at the ready market, but the real ones are at the tricks smoked meats in burke's county. you get the commercialize ones. let me ask you this. on that theme, is there something that we should be doing or that we are doing, the -- to kind of keep the flame burning a little bit, to keep at least one mohican or a couple of mohicans around? is there some sort of a revival of artisan foods in some places? like a farmers market? mark: this idea of seasonal food
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and buying local, the small-scale farmers, over which 100,000 of them go out of business every year. you know, these movements are very important, but they aren't going to, we are never going back to 1940. and you know, in some ways that is not a bad thing, because you know, it is great to talk about the local food, but in this part of the country, from november to april, there isn't much. and in september and october, people used to start canning food to get through the winter. so, it is not completely a bad thing that somebody is willing to fly or truck in some fresh food in the winter time. rick: i think one of the pieces i was reading in here, was it in
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the prairie or the homesteaders or what have you, they were all sick in the spring because they did have the greens for several months, so they had to bulk themselves up with whatever, and thaty sick, colds feeling. , you willright now also notice in here there's a lot of canned foods ingredients that we would look down on now. but they were what was available and was used. rick: i think in philadelphia ken when didlp me , george start, in the mid-70s? early '70s? one of his big claims to fame as was he was using fresh herbs. that was such a concept even then. people were using dried herbs and so forth. and canned vegetables. and so i agree, the landscape wasn't exactly -- i mean, in the
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urban dining scene. mark: there was a woman his idea all of this was -- whose idea all of this was katherine , kellogg, who did the guidebooks, that is with the federal writers' project was known for. katherine kellogg, who is this accomplished woman who left a high-paying job because she was so excited about the federal writers' project and her idea for it was guidebooks because , there were no guidebooks to america except for the 1909 that was written by a brit. and they did guidebooks for all 48 states and most major cities and some minor cities, a major nd major literary critics gave rave reviews to these books and they were best sellers and some of them are still in print. and very readable. and this project was, you know, this was her next idea when they
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had completely exhausted the guidebooks. this was going to be the next thing. part of the instructions she gave was to look for food controversies, like the fight over what the correct clam chowder is in new england, and the correct way to make a mint in the south, and is it originally from kentucky, or virginia, or what? and then weighing in with mississippi. and how do you just make it, do bourbon, sprig in the or do you crush it? some said it was a sin to crush it. you don't crush it but you when pinch it with your fingertips. you know, all of these discussions, but i have course
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wanted to try a recipe. i thought why not make four different kinds and drink them. rick: perfect, wasn't it? mark: and i couldn't get much of a flavor out of not crushing it, putting a sprig of mint and but then i thought, they probably had a very -- man that was picking them fresh from the garden when they put it in a glass. rick: or what about controversies like for a while in north carolina and you can , give people in their fisticuffs over proper barbecue sauce, whether it has tomato in it, or vinegar based. mark: bar-b-que is worth fighting over wherever you go. dying for it, as far as i'm concerned. that is a nice opportunity. i would love you to read another, this is from the section, the far west. it happens to be a woman, whose name i forget now. mark: claire born. claire born churchill.
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one of the interesting things about doing this project is that they weren't all nelson algorans. you had all of these names, and who were these people? a lot of them were people who were known writers in that day that they have forgotten about. she was one of them. she lived in oregon and she researched indian history, she wrote historical novels about sacajawea, various novels about indian life in oregon. but she seemed to have been very serious about mashed potatoes. rick: she got really wound up. i mean, part of the whole deal of the book is the, not amateurism in a bad way, but real life, real people, real folks caring passionately about their food and what they think is the proper way to prepare the food and so forth. so i want -- mark: it shows, if you tell people we want a bunch of stuff on food, you will get a wide range of stuff. rick: yes, a wide range.
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so when you read this, but a little bit of heart into it, put a little bit of emotion into it, because she is clearly going off here. mark: by the way, the grant is -- rant is actually about 4-5 pages long. rick: this is just the final blow here. she is just warming up for four pages and she finally gets this little rest in here which i just find delightful. the: you had to feel potatoes to be sure if it was right gramma said. as she tossed in the cream and butter and with this note heap on to a cuddle that lump of , butter on the crust and dusted it with pepper, paprika, god forbid. but course black pepper so fresh from the spice mill that set us all to sniff it. the memory betrays me. i find myself bursting into nostalgic tears, tears of pity for myself, tears for a lost generation of restaurant diners, who never will know the truth about mashed potatoes.
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[laughter] spuds arewhom fluffed, paddled, beaten, crushed, flounce and shaken but never, never mashed. [laughter] rick: i love it. and i actually love her for another reason. my dear departed mother, the few actual objects she bequeathed me, was a real potato masher. i have tried the smashers with a little zigzag things. they just don't do it. and i have tried ricers, but they get stuck. and this there's something one, visceral about it. it is real. mark: it is an excellent tool. rick: there you go. that was good. thank you for that. here is my next question. we had this regional cuisine,
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you know the salmon in the the cope scorn in pennsylvania and the chowder in hartford connecticut, or what have you. but it seems to me, there's almost a little bit of an opposite problem now. we have so democratized and homogenized the foodstuffs. for instance, the cajun blackened redfish that became, ago downut 15-20 years in new orleans and louisiana. mark: nearly wiped it out. rick: basically made it commercially extinct. in other words, it had disappeared as a dish. in fact, it was overused. i do not know if you can speak to that. do we have an inability now to leave well enough alone? do we love food to death? -- inow, is there some
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think john bogle spoke here last night, the head of vanguard and. d he talked about the concept of enough. and i remember my pennsylvania dutch forbearers talked-about sufficiency. and they had a little jingle, which after a few mint juleps i could recite to you, but can you speak to that? mark: yeah, you know -- this is a country, a culture that has always been fascinated by marketing. and has always tried to market things well. and you know, in our time all of these incredible tools have been created for marketing, the communication, television and the internet. rick: food columns. mark: food columns, exactly. and we now market without reasoning.
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because originally marketing was about selling products. now we just market everything. just to market it. it is what you do. if you have an idea, you go up out there and sell it. and the tools for doing this are so efficient that you don't like getting all of america to eat these burned seadrums from the gulf of mexico, until it was wiped out. whereas, in the time of america eats, you know, nobody would have done that. was was new orleans, it southern food, if you lived in the gulf of mexico. and if you lived in boston or indianapolis or california or something, you are not going to be sitting around eating gulf of mexico food. rick: and they probably may be did not even have the technological capacity to do it.
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i heard somewhere, it was iceberg lettuce, it was the transcontinental trains that made iceberg lettuce available to the east coast. they said, they would keep the crushed ice on the top of the cars to keep it cool. scenethere was a famous from steinbeck's novel where he was experimenting and lost all of his money because the ice melted. all of the lettuce wilted. see. well, let's that is sad. david kessler, the former fda commissioner, has just come out with a book called "the end of overeating." he is probably on a tour, just like you. maybe he is in baltimore, seattle or san francisco or what
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have you. but he has talked about, on this theme of people not being able to stop themselves, how the applebee's and chili's, how these companies have gotten so sophisticated at combining salt, sugar and fat formulas, that they actually have almost hit certain brain centers as effectively as big tobacco used nicotine. so if you find yourself in one of those places and actually order, you'll find yourself often eating even beyond your hunger not to satiate yourself ,, but to keep going. mark: that is all we really want, in fact the salt and , sugar. rick: if you could mushrooms in butter and garlic, forget the mushrooms. don't you feel like there has been a little bit of a revolt against the supersize thing?
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maybe we will save ourselves a little bit. has been ahere revolt against the agro industry, which has been a huge failure, because what every industry promised was that for whenever you might lose by industrializing agriculture, what you would gain is that you would eliminate starvation. and that never happened, so there really isn't the justification for the agro industry. people want to save the culture of farming, but they also want to eat products that nature had a hand in. rick: you know, coincidentally i happened to be talking to maria rodell, i guess the chairman of the company, they started
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gardening and so forth in the 1940's, in '42 think the first one came out. but her new thing, or one of the things she is pushing now is that, i am not saying i necessarily buy all of this, but she said that their test plots at the at the rodale institute that actually against , conventional soil, organic soils not only absorb more carbon from the atmosphere, but they sequester it or lockett and longer periods of time so she sees these farming techniques, these natural farming techniques as actually anti-climate change, buffers against climate change, not just to feed people but to actually have a secondary thing. stephanie, how are we doing on time? say what? [indiscernible] i, i have one little thing i want to run by this phenomenal journalist, author. reckon tour -- one little. i lost it now.
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hang on. thest wanted to note that inquirer, "the philadelphia inquirer" has not been used on mute on these subjects. in "america eats," there's a wonderful report by a fellow named stetson kennedy called -- the kant is the name of obviously the shellfish. mark: kant. name for it is also a people living in key west. mark: people from the bahamas. from key west. rick: very bottom feeding fish. i have someone here in my folder a wonderful account from our own paper of how the fattish american taste for conch of the caribbean once caused havoc, leaving the islander short on a staple.
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and the shells -- and allow me to quote from "the philadelphia " if you would permit me. you say conch? conch.n florida you say rick: i am going to do the floridians thing. here's what our report said in the inquirer. conchuld the queen escape its fate? it travels about 1 mile a week by throwing its 5-pound shell . excellent eyes help only to see the onslaught of enemies. its thick protective shell is easily sliced in the mouth of a stingray, shattered by the single crunch by the jaws of a sea turtle or chipped away while held fast in the feet of a spiny
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lobster that munches it like an ear of corn. spit it out.imply that was written for the inquirer back in 1987, by a free lancer by the name of mark kurlansky. [laughter] so it was clear, 20 years ago, the man was wasted on newsprint. anyway, if the audience would like to ask some questions, that is a little sample. mark wrote frequently for the food pages, the travel pages, the book review, the wonderful waverly book review that you did from maybe the early into the late 1980's, and also from europe, from paris and so forth. so, we like to think of that as our golden age. mark: yeah. rick: anyway, i just proud that i dug that out. [laughter] to, i think going people need to come up to the microphones if they want to ask a question.
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and if they don't, i will just rattle on. come up if you would like to ask mark a little bit about the book. don't be shy. please come up now, if you would like. [laughter] >> how much would you say regional eating, maybe back then or maybe even now was really , about cheap eating and trying to survive on what you could afford? this period in time in the late 30's, 1940 was very much about that. and there are a number of recipes in here which are the kind of thing that actually we are starting to see now, where people are publishing recipes, showing how to make things and .nexpensively coming up with dishes that are
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inexpensive to make. there is a recipe for a child or potatoes inith just it and there's something called , the depression cake that does not have any eggs. but, regionalism, just limiting your diet to regional food, was more than just about hard economic times. it was about less transportation and less communication and you know, people really were rooted in the region and in their county in a way we aren't today. you know, people did not move around as much, and they stayed with families. families cooked. i live in new york city and i sometimes feel like i am the last person there who still actually cooks. -- whitman also cooks. [laughter]
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, on up -- come up if anyone else has a question. of not i'm going to hog the mic. be thinking of coming up but i , mention that my little introduction, and i forgot to follow up on it, about the rich with and humor that is threaded through the book. and one, you've got a glossary of new york luncheon that. -- slang. mark: one thing that becomes clear from this stuff is that these writers in these projects had a lot of fun. you can actually look through and see which ones where the fun projects to work on. a lot of coursing around -- horsing around in new york and in boston and chicago. the traditional writer places. let me see if i can find this. this is a list of slang from hash houses. stickss one, this always
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in my mind because it is disturbing the slang for a woman , was a blimp. [laughter] rick: there were other names for women that were more on the foxy side, right? mark: yes. rick: or maybe they are too racy for the national constitution center crowd, or whatever this is. is this c-span or something that is filming us? mark: let me see here. butter was axle grease, soup was belly wash. eggs were berries. coffee with cream was a blond. ketchup was a bottle of red. [laughter] there's a nice one for jell-o. pudding.vous
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[laughter] rick: i like that. that is not really shorthand. that is more like longhand. mark: a lot of them are. longer than the original. it is about subcultures trying to create their own dialect. rick: i think it is great. mark: a cook was a greaser. were hebrew enemies. [laughter] down there was a cafeteria at second and market when i , first moved here. i think it is not stephen stars continental. does anybody remember the name of it? [indiscernible] rick: they would go in there and all the guys had a routine. they would say, try it. it was a jewish deli, a cafeteria, heavily jewish oriented. but the guys, they had a whole
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prattle, try our tongue. it is so good, it speaks for itself. it is so fresh. our porkchops are kosher hear. re. here's a gentleman who wants to get a word in. >> the gentleman i know, who is a gatherer. did you run across much in the research and in the writers' project of folks who gathered? and how it was used? rick: by that he means people who would forage in the wild for berries and all that kind of thing. mark: a lot, particularly in the west. there was one thing that just struck me as a very nice little piece from oklahoma about going out when the first wild onions came in and gathering them and mixing them with eggs. there was a lot of stuff like that. rick: that is so fascinating, because that is like the whole spanish tradition, where they
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get the scallions and they grill them with that sauce, whatever, the red pepper and ground almonds. that is a big thing i think all over most of spain. southern spain. mark is a lifelong fanatic about the basque region and has written extensively about the basque region. odd of course, the red c is about the basque. mark: within the range of the basque world, i think i would be a moderate. rick: i do not mean that you are a member or something, but you have long been -- mark: i have spent a lot of time there and this one of the most beautiful places in the world with some of the best food and a very rich, ancient culture. rick: and you know in
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philadelphia now we have the , basque influence restaurant. mark: one thing i have noticed and discovered because basques , have really been very supportive of me, there are in the world,here because everywhere i go probably there is a basque person. they may come up and say hello later. a couple of months ago i was in australia and there was the basque family that came up. rick: amazing. i am sorry, go right ahead. >> what kind of food was served in bus stations. bus stations used to have cafeterias, and on trains? was it regional or was it not regional? mark: well, trains have a kind of an interesting history, at least in the eastern united states. they tended to be staffed with african-americans, who worry south or hadom the
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roots in the south. and that was a huge influence on train food, which is another thing i remember from when i was a child. we once took a train to florida and it was southern food all the way down. rick: starting in the north. mark: starting in manhattan. rick: that is great. worked -- weren't there trains out west? my memory is faulty. didn't they have a chain of places called the harvey houses? there were harvey girls who were the waitresses? mark: a forerunner of the chain restaurants. rick: and they were supposedly fairly good, hearty, for square they?weren't mark: yes, they were supposed to be home cooking. and the automats were supposed
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to be home cooking. there is a piece in here about the automats. the writer says that the children loved them. i like that because when i was a kid i loved them. i was always trying to get my parents to take us to the automat. we have the sole postal boxes with windows. rick: you put in the coin and you get your lemon meringue pie and then you close the door and you hang out and wait, and if you wait long enough another hand will appear and he will get another pie. just by raising your hands come out of curiosity, how many have encountered an automat? mark: it is a philadelphia company. it was actually started here in 1902. are you waiting for a question? mark: please. >> as a child growing up in the on a farm in iowa, i remember my
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1940's mother and my grandmother spending days preserving food, and i think that is how many people survived those years. and i even got to stay home from school and my grandmother came , out from town when the butchering, when it was butchering day. and that took a whole day. mark: and it wasn't a lot of this about getting through the winter? >> very much so. was anybody writing about that? mark: there is some, there is some mention of there are some , recipes for preserved foods, yeah. rick: you are right, absolutely. in the day fruits, pickles, , cucumbers. mark: all kinds of vegetables. >> sauerkraut. mark: just the vegetables. >> that is right. rick: green beans. and a chicken preserved in
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chicken fat in jars. i come from a jewish household where everything, including meat was preserved in chicken fat. [laughter] you call it smultz. in june, if you are in iowa you eat rhubarb custard high, cuss -- crust made with lard, new potatoes with peas in a cream sauce, wonderful. fresh lettuce from the garden. we survived on my mother's garden. you can still get rhubarb custard pie -- and not have any actual financial connection.
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they slaughter hogs in the back, then i could not talk into it -- talked to anyone because they were slaughtering the hogs. aey learn this -- harvest beef log from the hogs, a particularly elegant kine, and they make their pies, apple dumpling, including rhubarb custard pie with the wonderful lard. my mother plate bread, sometimes twice a week depending on how many were in the household. her favorite snack was a slice of homemade red with chicken fat. isk: you know where pickling incredibly prolific -- if you go to the russian -- we had a lot of those russian/jews in , they had pickled
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counters with a pickle that everything that moves [laughter] -- moves. [laughter] and: there were barrels barrels of this stuff that go 30 feet. had amy grandfather basement that pickled everything. some they ever wanted either anything fresh? [laughter] it reminds me of that calvin line. he said his whole life growing up, all he ever had for dinner was leftovers. he never saw the original meal. [laughter] you mentioned the conflict making a mintr juleps. were there any other noteworthy stories that you had in your book about american traditions? in particular, ill effects on those traditions that would have failed noble experiment? mark: you have to remember that
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these manuscripts were written in not that long after depression was repealed. there is a kind of a mystique to alcohol. we could talk about it now, it .s legal there are a lot of alcohol recipes in the book. it is very notable in all of the regions. of negativecussion results. i cannot find it right now, but there is a fun little piece in here about, they called it -- i don't know -- prairie's do, or something like that. or somethingew
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like that. water, whiskey, allspice, sugar, cinnamon and the oldest girl in the family had to make it. anyways it was called something like kansas stew? mark: you are thinking of the seltzer. rick: no. the author, not mark, but the arm -- author says that is where .he word stew came from it came from that concoction called a stew. mark: there is a recipe in here from oregon called blue ruin. step right up. morning.d you this
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scholars from the soviet union came to philadelphia for a conference. my husband and i took them around and show them wonderful sights of philadelphia. we took 2 -- we took them to a supermarket that blew them away. the three gentlemen must have , round and round, down the line, it was the most fabulous thing they had ever seen. childish, but they had the glee. all they ate was desserts. was one of those wonderful moments because it was still pretty bad in 1956 in the soviet union. it is philadelphia based.


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