Hi, my name’s Andrew, and I’m an aspiring public historian who loves cultural history, and one of my favorite aspects of cultural history is food. I’m interested in American foodways, particularly during the Great Depression. So, what are foodways? Foodways are how people in a particular place acquire, prepare, and eat food. Food is a fantastic way to connect with and understand history — both the history of a region and the history of the people who lived in it — and one of my favorite ways to do this is by preparing old recipes.

The contemporary values, fears, and aspirations of the Great Depression are all on display in its recipes. Recipes aren’t always reliable indicators of what people actually eat (I own a dozen cookbooks that I’ve never used and I have hundreds of saved recipes online), but they do provide a glimpse at appetites, both fulfilled and unfulfilled. Not many people would have had the means to cook exotic meals from “international” cookbooks published during the Great Depression, but they provided escapism. At the other end of the spectrum, the government produced pamphlets and practical but joyless guidebooks. I’ll try to keep the government published soybean recipes to a minimum on this blog.

So what can you expect from this blog? Most posts will be me cooking an actual recipe published some time between 1929 and 1941. These recipes will be a mix of magazine clippings, community cookbooks compiled by churches and clubs, USDA pamphlets, regional cookbooks, home planning guides, and more. Every now and then I’ll throw in a post about related topic, like food preservation methods or grocery shopping. I’ll include pictures of my cooking process along with tips and historical context. I’m also open to cooking your suggestions! Lots of old Depression Era recipes have been digitized and are freely available, but I’m always looking for more recipes.

Chicago soup kitchen (1931). Credit: National Archives and Records Admin.

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