Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Twain's Feast

I'm currently reading Twain's Feast: Searching for American's Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens by Andrew Beahrs. I'm enjoying this book, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who is interested in American food, traveling, Mr. Twain, history, cooking, and the ecology our food. The focal point of the book is Twain's love of food, specifically the foods he longed for on the tail end of a European trip. These cravings compelled him to compose the following list of American foods of he wanted to eat when he returned home:

  • Radishes
  • Baked apples with cream
  • Fried oysters
  • Frogs
  • American coffee, with real cream
  • American butter
  • Fried Chicken, Southern style
  • Porter-house steak
  • Saratoga potatoes
  • Broiled chicken, American style
  • Hot biscuits, southern style
  • Hot wheat-bread, Southern style
  • Hot buckwheat cakes
  • American toast
  • Clear maple syrup
  • Virginia bacon, broiled
  • Blue points, on the half shell
  • Cherry-stone clams
  • San Francisco mussels, steamed
  • Oyster soup
  • Clam soup
  • Philadelphia Terrapin soup
  • Bacon and greens, Southern style
  • Hominy
  • Boiled onions
  • Turnips
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Asparagus
  • Butter beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Succotash
  • String beans
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Catsup
  • Boiled potatoes, in their skins
  • New potatoes, minus the skins
  • early rose potatoes, roasted in the ashes, Southern style, served hot
  • Slice tomatoes, with sugar or vinegar
  • Stewed tomatoes
  • Green corn, cut from the ear and served with butter and pepper
  • Oysters roasted in shell - Northern style
  • Soft-shell crabs
  • Connecticut shad
  • Baltimore perch
  • Brook trout, from Sierra Nevadas
  • Lake trout, from Tahoe
  • Sheep-head and croakers, from New Orleans
  • Black bass from the Mississippi
  • American roast beef
  • Roast turkey, Thanksgiving style
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Celery
  • Roast wild turkey
  • Woodcock
  • Canvas-back-duck from Baltimore
  • Prairie-hens from Illinois
  • Missouri partridges, broiled
  • 'Possum
  • Coon
  • Boston bacon and beans
  • Green corn, on the ear
  • Hot corn-pone, with chitlins, Southern style
  • Hot hoe-cake, Southern style
  • Hot egg-bread, Southern style
  • Hot light -bread, Southern style
  • Buttermilk
  • Iced sweet milk
  • Apple dumplings, with real cream
  • Apple pie
  • Apple fritters
  • Apple puffs, Southern style
  • Peach cobbler, Southern style
  • Peach pie
  • American mince pie
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Squash pie
  • All sorts of American pastry

I photocopied the list, and now I'm carrying it around as a compass for my belly. I'm still digesting the list, but I'm interested in hearing what you think.

What are your favorite things on this list? What would you add to Mr. Twain's list?

keep your skillet good and greasy,



Jenni said...

I'm surprised by how many items on this list with which I'm completely unfamiliar. There are even more I've heard of but never tried. (And some I'm not eager to try. Terrapin soup does not sound any more appealing than turtle soup.) I would have to add grits, chicken fried steak, patty melt (on rye w/grilled onions and Swiss cheese, please), blueberry pancakes, shrimp creole, and jambalaya.

Jenni said...

P.S. Jell-O salad of any kind would not be on my list, even if it is the favorite dish of the Midwest.

Anonymous said...

For a Missouri boy, he sure had a hankering for seafood.

Food just amazes me. Seems like in this 21st century world, there are still interesting things that are hard to find, despite advances in transportation and refrigeration. And yet look at Sam's list here, full of regional delicacies.

We were just talking the other day about Rocky Ford melons. Quite simply, the best in the world. And this time of the year, cheap, cheap, cheap. A dollar for a 2-3 pounder, compared to the $3-4 the grocer wants for a Casaba at odd times of the year. And yet, very few people have ever had a Rocky Ford.

Will work on my list later today.

Nella said...

I'm with him on the mashed potatoes, tomatoes, and green beans. However, his list did not contain chocolate nor did it contain beer. I'm just saying.

Anonymous said...

Hatch green chiles, roasted
Chocolate chip cookies
Vanilla ice cream
Salsa, heavy on the tomatillos and cilantro
Peach pie
Honeycrisp apples
Soft tortillas
Banana bread
Flatbreads of any sort
1015Ys, Walla Wallas, or Bermuda onions
Grilled or roasted peppers

Anonymous said...

oh yeah ... and the simple scrambled egg

muddywaters said...

I'm obsessed with Mr. Twain's list. In a pre-FoodTV, pre-food blog era, he experienced quite a best of what America had to offer. I'm still unfamiliar with some of the items on his list.

I would add the following to his list:

Hatch Green chiles

Rocky Ford cantaloupe

pie (it varies from region to region, and each region has its specialities.

Central Texas BBQ sausage

regional BBQ

beer (we're in the Golden Age of beer in America, and there's a lot to experience out there)

Ranier cherries

Whoopie pies