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Taste of the NationThe New Deal Search for America's Food$
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Camille Bégin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040252

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040252.001.0001

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A “Well-Filled Melting Pot”

A “Well-Filled Melting Pot”

(p.129) Chapter 5 A “Well-Filled Melting Pot”
Taste of the Nation

Camille Bégin

University of Illinois Press

This chapter provides an ethnographic reading of New Deal food writing to understand the centrality of ethnic taste in 1930s sensory economies. Federal Writers' Project workers described ethnic food using well-known keywords such as “the melting pot” or “cosmopolitanism”—given the topic at hand and the pressing need to produce material, these were tempting tropes. Still, New Deal food writing coming from midwestern and western rural and industrial areas updated the paradigmatic metaphors and described a sensory cosmopolitanism where culinary encounters and working-class solidarities combined to create a cultural pluralist version of the melting pot. The chapter focuses on nodes of sensory trade such as workplaces, grocery stores, and ethnic restaurants, from foreign-themed nightclubs to working-class establishments and multiethnic diners.

Keywords:   New Deal, ethnic taste, sensory economies, Federal Writers' Project, cosmopolitanism, working-class solidarity, cultural pluralism

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