If you love Mark Twain, food or American history, look no further for your summer beach read than the newly published book Twain’s Feast: Searching for America’s Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens. The author uses the palate of America’s great humorist to celebrate and explore native foodstuffs. Naturally, Twain was a very well-traveled person–but having eaten his way through France, England, Germany and other places on his Grand European Tour, Twain professed himself thoroughly bored with local fare and composed a wish list of American foods his palate most missed.
A few of those dishes such as steak, turkey, and corn on the cob continue to appeal to contemporary palates, but others on the list, such as possum, frogs, and turtles, shock our modern sensibilities. Though the author follows Twain’s life and literary works along loosely chronological lines, he intersperses his own firsthand experiences, such as observing Illinois prairie chickens in mating season and attending an Arkansas raccoon supper. The result is an engaging look at food, history, storytelling and of course the work of Mark Twain.