Friday, August 1, 2014

History, Yum!

By Nina Kendall

                Do you have a taste for history? Are you looking for a good book to sample? Do you want to get someone hooked on history? Try food history.  Food reflects who we are and who we were as a people. It illustrates the influence of technology on society and reveals the cultural traditions and diversity of a region. Food is both an artifact and a motivator. The Columbian exchange transformed the world in part because of the food it introduced to new lands.

            Mark Kurlansky has written several books about history and food.  His works document both the role of food in society and how food reflects change over time. Well researched and accessible, Kurlansky's work is worth checking out.  Salt is an account of food as force of change. Salt made food preservation possible and once served as unit of exchange. This work illustrates how one commodity can influence population, and impact international relations.

In The Food of a Younger Land, Mark Kurlansky uses records from the Federal Writers Project administered by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to create a picture of food and eating habits in America in the 1940’s. The WPA employed out of work writers to conduct interviews and record traditions during the Great Depression. Mark Kurlansky shares a collection of recipes and stories that describe a land were food is traditional, seasonal, and regional. Kurlansky gives you a glimpse of American food habits before technology and transportation advancements.

The Histocrats are going to use The Food of a Younger Land as inspiration for a hunt for recent history. We have read about the history of drink and Soul Food. We have visited the Coca-Cola Museum Now we are going to hunt for the food of a modern land.  What do we eat now? How have traditions changed? How can we use what we learn to teach students about history?  What would you find if you went hunting in your hometown? Happy eating! May the history you find be delicious.

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