A “Well-Filled Melting Pot”

Camille Bégin

in Taste of the Nation

Published by University of Illinois Press

Published in print April 2016 | ISBN: 9780252040252
Published online April 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780252098512 | DOI:
A “Well-Filled Melting Pot”

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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

Chapter.  10804 words. 

Subjects: Cultural Studies

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