Mark Kurlansky's "The Food of a Younger Land"

The Eating Habits of Americans (from the 1930s WPA chronicles)

Photos from the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Written on

December 01 , 2012

In the 1930s, writers for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) chronicled the eating habits of Americans. Here are some Vermont excerpts, as collected in Mark Kurlansky’s The Food of a Younger Land:


From “Vermont Foods” by Cora Moore

Sour Milk Doughnuts: No native Vermonter goes without doughnuts for breakfast, even if mother has to get up before-hand to make them. The recipe?—2 cups of flour, 3/4 teaspoon soda, 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and a dash of nutmeg sifted together. Add a beaten egg, 1/2 cup sugar, tablespoon melted butter, and 1/2 cup sour milk. Knead on the board adding flour, if necessary; cut and fry in deep fat. For Sugared Doughnuts, when cool, shake in a bag with some confectioners’ sugar. Blueberry griddlecakes are a Vermont Sunday morning breakfast.

From “Eating in Vermont” by Roaldus Richmond

As a rule Vermonters are not enthusiastic about salads or fish, favorites with the sophisticated, although Vermont gardens and Vermont lakes and streams offer a wealth of possibilities for both dishes. Fancy foods and frothy things are not popular in the state, whose people go for plain, solid, substantial foodstuffs.

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