Catalogue


Twain's feast : searching for America's lost foods in the footsteps of Samuel Clemens /
Andrew Beahrs.
imprint
New York : The Penguin Press, 2010.
description
323 p.
ISBN
1594202591 (hbk.), 9781594202599 (hbk.)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : The Penguin Press, 2010.
isbn
1594202591 (hbk.)
9781594202599 (hbk.)
contents note
It makes me cry to think of them : prairie-hens, from Illinois -- A barrel of odds and ends : possum and raccoon -- Masterpiece of the universe : trout at Lake Tahoe -- Heaven on the half shell : oysters and mussels in San Francisco -- Dinner was leisurely served : Philadelphia terrapin -- The most absorbing story in the world : sheepshead and croakers, from New Orleans -- It is my Thanksgiving Day : cranberries -- Twilight : maple syrup -- Epilogue -- Acknowledgments -- Notes.
catalogue key
7311937
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
First Chapter


Diamondback terrapin hatchling, Neavitt, Maryland



"Yesterday I had many things to do, but Bixby and I got with the pilots of two other boats and went off dissipating on a ten dollar dinner at a French restaurant--breathe it not unto Ma!--where we ate Sheep-head-fish with mushrooms, shrimps and oysters--birds--coffee with burnt brandy in it, &c &c, ate, drank & smoked from 1 PM until 5 o'clock, and then--then--the day was too far gone to do anything."
Mark Twain, New Orleans, 1860.


Creole mixed grill of sheepshead, shrimp, and lump crab: winning entry, 2009 Great American Seafood Cook-Off, New Orleans.



To Make Cranberry Tarts

To one pound of flour three quarters of a pound of butter, then stew your cranberry's to a jelly, putting good brown sugar in to sweeten them, strain the cranberry's and then put them in your patty pans for baking in a moderate oven for half an hour.
Hannah Glass, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1805.


Cranberry harvest, Cranberry Hill Farms, Plymouth, Massachusetts




Saucing raccoon, Arkansas



"I know the taste of maple sap, and when to gather it, and how to arrange the troughs and the delivery tubes, and how to boil down the juice, and how to hook the sugar after it is made, also how much better hooked sugar tastes than and that is honestly come by, let bigots say what they will."
Mark Twain, Autobiography.




Burning the tallgrass, Missouri

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2010-04-26:
In his first book, Beahrs uses the palate of America's great humorist and satirist to celebrate and explore native foodstuffs and even make the case for him as a passionate locavore. Though the author follows Twain's life and literary works along loosely chronological lines, he ranges deep into a personal and journalistic agenda. The book intersperses Beahrs's firsthand experiences, such as observing Illinois prairie chickens in mating season and attending an Arkansas raccoon supper, with Twain's gastronomical record. The sheer breadth of Twain's travels and jobs permit discussion of such 21st-century topics as the far west's Great Basin water reclamation and cranberry bog expansion with historical developments like the invention of "modern" farm machinery and its impact. The author's upbeat tone doesn't dodge the darker side of his hero, entertainingly entwining more commonly known biographical facts with the surprising (who knew the author of Tom Sawyer once sought cocaine?). Beahrs frequently interrupts the narrative with historical culinary asides about dishes like oyster ice cream, but his passion and scope of detail are bracing. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 2010-05-01:
It is not easy to determine who would be the best audience for novelist and food writer Beahrs's (The Sin Eaters) new book. Twain enthusiasts, for example, might prefer one of his novels as a starting point over a complaining letter from a European sojourn. Foodies, meanwhile, will find the digressive recounting of and speculation on Twain's life distracting. Some of Beahrs's modern-day expeditions are engrossing, especially his trip to Arkansas for an annual raccoon feast. However, the narrative focus shifts too much within chapters, and the seemingly random scattering of old recipes throughout further hampers the flow. Beahrs is at his best when he writes about how the food tastes. VERDICT Readers with a passing interest in food, Mark Twain, or American cultural history may most appreciate this hodgepodge, but the balance among the three themes is precarious, making for a sometimes confusing read.-Peter Hepburn, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"What a gift this is! Inspired by the foods most loved by Mark Twain, Beahrs has given us a warm and nostalgic history of wild foods in the United States. His search for once abundant native foods reveals how much we have lost. This book should encourage food lovers to get busy and rescue the wild foods that remain." -Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat " Twain's Feast is a celebration of the way America used to eat. Andrew Beahrs shares with the reader the delightful appetites of Samuel Clemens, a bevy of old-timey recipes, and his own journey to discover whatever happened to our culinary traditions. Beahrs's attention to detail had my mouth watering for a Tahoe trout cooked over a campfire, freshly shucked oysters on the half-shell, and I'm sad to admit, the now endangered prairie chicken, roasted." -Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City " Twain's Feast takes us on an engaging, quixotic search for the lost regional specialties Mark Twain loved-and reminds us of how food always shapes our sense of where we come from and who we are. Whether gorging on barbecued raccoon, mourning the endangered terrapin, or whipping up a chess pie with his young son, Andrew Beahrs pays attention to the details that make meals memorable. Anyone who likes Twain, or cooking, or the bittersweet history of our changing landscape will savor this feast." -Jane Smith, author of The Garden of Invention "Long before the Slow Food movement, Mark Twain championed regional American cooking. In this beautifully written ode to Twain and local delicacies like possum, oysters and Philadelphia terrapin, Andrew Beahrs has given us an instant classic in the literature of the table." -Andrew Todhunter, author of A Meal Observed "I had no idea that a menu written down by Mark Twain over a century ago could teach us so much about American food, but in the skillful hands of Andrew Beahrs, it does that and more. Twain's Feast is a brilliant book: elegant, insightful, and funny, part history and part hungry-making. It's not only an illuminating and relevant read, but a fun one." -Molly Wizenberg, author of A Homemade Life
"What a gift this is! Inspired by the foods most loved by Mark Twain, Beahrs has given us a warm and nostalgic history of wild foods in the United States. His search for once abundant native foods reveals how much we have lost. This book should encourage food lovers to get busy and rescue the wild foods that remain." -Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat "Twain's Feastis a celebration of the way America used to eat. Andrew Beahrs shares with the reader the delightful appetites of Samuel Clemens, a bevy of old-timey recipes, and his own journey to discover whatever happened to our culinary traditions. Beahrs's attention to detail had my mouth watering for a Tahoe trout cooked over a campfire, freshly shucked oysters on the half-shell, and I'm sad to admit, the now endangered prairie chicken, roasted." -Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City "Twain's Feasttakes us on an engaging, quixotic search for the lost regional specialties Mark Twain loved-and reminds us of how food always shapes our sense of where we come from and who we are. Whether gorging on barbecued raccoon, mourning the endangered terrapin, or whipping up a chess pie with his young son, Andrew Beahrs pays attention to the details that make meals memorable. Anyone who likes Twain, or cooking, or the bittersweet history of our changing landscape will savor this feast." -Jane Smith, author of The Garden of Invention "Long before the Slow Food movement, Mark Twain championed regional American cooking. In this beautifully written ode to Twain and local delicacies like possum, oysters and Philadelphia terrapin, Andrew Beahrs has given us an instant classic in the literature of the table." -Andrew Todhunter, author of A Meal Observed "I had no idea that a menu written down by Mark Twain over a century ago could teach us so much about American food, but in the skillful hands of Andrew Beahrs, it does that and more. Twain's Feastis a brilliant book: elegant, insightful, and funny, part history and part hungry-making. It's not only an illuminating and relevant read, but a fun one." -Molly Wizenberg, author of A Homemade Life
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, April 2010
Booklist, May 2010
Library Journal, May 2010
New York Times Full Text Review, August 2010
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
In 'Twain's Feast', Beahrs sets out to discover whether some of the regional dishes prefered by Mark Twain can still be found on American tables. From New Orleans croakers to maple syrup from Connecticut, this is a guide to American food with a difference.
Main Description
One young food writer searches for America's lost wild foods, from New Orleans croakers to Illinois prairie hen, and employs Mark Twain as his guide.
Main Description
One young food writer's search for America's lost wild foods, from New Orleans croakers to Illinois Prairie hen, with Mark Twain as his guide. In the winter of 1879, Mark Twain paused during a tour of Europe to compose a fantasy menu of the American dishes he missed the most. He was desperately sick of European hotel cooking, and his menu, made up of some eighty regional specialties, was a true love letter to American food: Lake Trout, from Tahoe. Hot biscuits, Southern style. Canvasback-duck, from Baltimore. Black-bass, from the Mississippi. When food writer Andrew Beahrs first read Twain's menu in the classic work A Tramp Abroad , he noticed the dishes were regional in the truest sense of the word-drawn fresh from grasslands, woods, and waters in a time before railroads had dissolved the culinary lines between Hannibal, Missouri, and San Francisco. These dishes were all local, all wild, and all, Beahrs feared, had been lost in the shift to industrialized food. In Twain's Feast , Beahrs sets out to discover whether eight of these forgotten regional specialties can still be found on American tables, tracing Twain's footsteps as he goes. Twain's menu, it turns out, was also a memoir and a map. The dishes he yearned for were all connected to cherished moments in his life-from the New Orleans croakers he loved as a young man on the Mississippi to the maple syrup he savored in Connecticut, with his family, during his final, lonely years. Tracking Twain's foods leads Beahrs from the dwindling prairie of rural Illinois to a six-hundred-pound coon supper in Arkansas to the biggest native oyster reef in San Francisco Bay. He finds pockets of the country where Twain's favorite foods still exist or where intrepid farmers, fishermen, and conservationists are trying to bring them back. In Twain's Feast , he reminds us what we've lost as these wild foods have disappeared from our tables, and what we stand to gain from their return. Weaving together passages from Twain's famous works and Beahrs's own adventures, Twain's Feast takes us on a journey into America's past, to a time when foods taken fresh from grasslands, woods, and waters were at the heart of American cooking.
Main Description
One young food writer's search for America's lost wild foods, from New Orleans croakers to Illinois Prairie hen, with Mark Twain as his guide. In the winter of 1879, Mark Twain paused during a tour of Europe to compose a fantasy menu of the American dishes he missed the most. He was desperately sick of European hotel cooking, and his menu, made up of some eighty regional specialties, was a true love letter to American food: Lake Trout, from Tahoe. Hot biscuits, Southern style. Canvasback-duck, from Baltimore. Black-bass, from the Mississippi. When food writer Andrew Beahrs first read Twain's menu in the classic work A Tramp Abroad, he noticed the dishes were regional in the truest sense of the word-drawn fresh from grasslands, woods, and waters in a time before railroads had dissolved the culinary lines between Hannibal, Missouri, and San Francisco. These dishes were all local, all wild, and all, Beahrs feared, had been lost in the shift to industrialized food. In Twain's Feast, Beahrs sets out to discover whether eight of these forgotten regional specialties can still be found on American tables, tracing Twain's footsteps as he goes. Twain's menu, it turns out, was also a memoir and a map. The dishes he yearned for were all connected to cherished moments in his life-from the New Orleans croakers he loved as a young man on the Mississippi to the maple syrup he savored in Connecticut, with his family, during his final, lonely years. Tracking Twain's foods leads Beahrs from the dwindling prairie of rural Illinois to a six-hundred-pound coon supper in Arkansas to the biggest native oyster reef in San Francisco Bay. He finds pockets of the country where Twain's favorite foods still exist or where intrepid farmers, fishermen, and conservationists are trying to bring them back. In Twain's Feast, he reminds us what we've lost as these wild foods have disappeared from our tables, and what we stand to gain from their return. Weaving together passages from Twain's famous works and Beahrs's own adventures, Twain's Feasttakes us on a journey into America's past, to a time when foods taken fresh from grasslands, woods, and waters were at the heart of American cooking.
Unpaid Annotation
Shares insights into Mark Twain's menu-style tribute to American cuisine and how it included wild regional specialties that have been lost to industrial food production, tracing the author's efforts to track down eight specific dishes.
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 1
It Makes Me Cry to Think of Them: Prairie-Hens, from Illinoisp. 15
A Barrel of Odds and Ends: Possum and Raccoonp. 49
Masterpiece of the Universe: Trout at Lake Tahoep. 83
Heaven on the Half Shell: Oysters and Mussels in San Franciscop. 113
Dinner Was Leisurely Served: Philadelphia Terrapinp. 148
The Most Absorbing Story in the World: Sheep-Head and Croakers, from New Orleansp. 183
It Is My Thanksgiving Day: Cranberriesp. 217
Twilight: Maple Syrupp. 252
Epiloguep. 281
Acknowledgmentsp. 291
Notesp. 293
Selected Bibliographyp. 309
Indexp. 313
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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