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Long before Southern Foodways Alliance or today’s legion of pop-historian food writers, there was an attempt, mercenary though it may have been, to catalog America’s regional eats from Texas chuck wagons to Maine clambakes. “America Eats” was a WPA make-work program for writers futzing their way through the Great Depression. It employed Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston, Nelson Algren, and other scribes whose relationship to food was likely more gustatory than scholarly. Mark Kurlansky tripped upon this cache of rough and previously unpublished manuscripts and has turned it into the frustrating-but-fascinating The Food of a Younger Land. Kurlansky will explain the importance of these dusty papers on America’s eating habits in the days before microwave burritos and clown-marketed Happy Meals.

KURLANSKY READS AT 7 P.M. AT POLITICS AND PROSE, 5015 CONNECTICUT AVE. NW. FREE. (202) 364-1919. —Tim Carman