Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Our February/March Book Pick: Twain's Feast by Andrew Beahrs

What foods do Americans miss when they are abroad? Mark Twain's autobiographical book, A Tramp Abroad, written in 1879 while on an extended stay in Europe, includes a scathing assessment of the cuisine offered by European hotels. After negative reviews of pretty much everything he has eaten during his stay, Twain sees the light at the end of the tunnel, since he is getting ready to travel back home, where he is planning to eat: 
Radishes. Baked apples, with cream.
Fried oysters; stewed oysters. Frogs.
American coffee, with real cream. 
He goes on to mention about 80 more American foods from buckwheat cakes to squash pie. On first reading, the list made me think about the menu of a Baroque banquet. In Twain's Feast: Searching for America's Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens, Andrew Beahrs "tracked down a number of these American classics, discovering what Twain's experience of them was, what's become of them today, and what's being done to bring them back" (source

In the book, Beahrs tells us stories about both the man and the country, both the past and the present, stories about trout and oyster, terrapin, raccoon and more. The chapters include old recipes and references to food that I hope will inspire us, including the full list penned by Twain (see the Introduction). 


The deadline for publishing your post inspired by Twain's Feast
is Monday, March 31st

When you publish your post (or posts), you can leave a comment to this post or email me at simosite@mac.com. Feel free to write a comment or email message, should you have any questions.

Buon divertimento (have fun)!


Alicia Foodycat said...

I have ordered it! I can't promise to cook a raccoon though.

AM Nichols said...

Two of my favorite things - Mark Twain and food!

No raccoon for me either! (Squirrel maybe - I have two in the freezer, but hardly enough to make a stew.)

We have Terrapin beer here in Georgia. Does that count?

Can't wait to read it!

Debra Eliotseats said...

Lots of references to turtle soup recently---here and in Babette's feast (FnF). I can't wait to read this.

Camilla M. Mann said...

I devoured this book in less than a week! Just posted our grilled porterhouse. Thanks for picking this. I had never heard of this book.

Rachel said...

Love, love, love this book. Great pick, Simona! I just appreciate Mark Twain more and more as I read this book.

Simona Carini said...

Alicia, the raccoon chapter is quite funny, you'll see.

Terrapin beer? That sounds interesting. I hope you'll tell us about it anyway, AM Nichols.

Interesting coincidence, Debra.

Wow, Camilla: I am so glad you enjoyed the book. It's full of fascinating information, isn't it?

Thank you, Rachel. It really gives a nice portrait of Twain, each chapter adding a piece to the puzzle.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Simona - I've finished the book. What a great read!

Simona Carini said...

I am so glad you enjoyed the book, Alicia. Can't wait to see what you will be inspired to prepare.

Alicia Foodycat said...

http://foodycat.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/maple-bacon-popcorn-for-twains-feast.html here's mine!

Debra Eliotseats said...

Mine is up. http://eliotseats.com/?p=15332

Simona Carini said...

Thank you all!
Here's my post: http://www.pulcetta.com/2014/03/trota-forno-roasted-trout-mark-twain.html

AM Nichols said...

My post will be up tomorrow morning at http://www.thismamacooks.com/2014/03/gluten-free-dairy-free-oyster-chowder.html.

Deb in Hawaii said...

A fun pick Simona! ;-)

Here's my post:

Claudia said...

My post is now up at: http://honeyfromrock.blogspot.com/2014/03/manapua-for-mark-twains-visit-to-hawaii.html

I enjoyed all the interesting meanders on American food.

Simona Carini said...

Thank you everybody for your comments and contributions. The roundup will be out tomorrow. In the meantime, make sure you check the previous post that has the list of the next four selections.