What’s in a name?

Like the heritage cookbook titled: “Texas Eats” by Robb Walsh, the name “Galveston Eats” echoes the legendary unpublished work, “America Eats!”

America Eats! was a 1935 WPA project that sent out-of-work writers to chronicle America’s folk cuisine and food gatherings, including church suppers, state fairs, political rallies, and community picnics with a focus on the “social and anthropological” importance of popular food culture. Writers across the country were to contribute chapters on their states to be compiled into a single book that capture the American food scene.

The Texas chapter included an account of a visit to the chili stands in the Mexican quarter of San Antonio, musings on the history of barbecue, and a loving description of a ham sandwich.

The deadline for the writers to send in their work was December 3, 1941, four days before Pearl Harbor was attacked. With the onset of the war, the government agency in charge of America Eats was shut down and the writings were stored at the Library of Congress. Collections of the archived articles have been published in recent years in Mark Kurlansky’s book The Food of a Younger Land and Pat Willard’s America Eats!

The America Eats! project, with its firm focus on folk foodways, has inspired modern American food writers to who seek to document contemporary food culture.