Twain’s Feast

Sunday we spent the afternoon at Rush Ranch just south of Suisun City on Grizzly Island. The ranch, which is run by the Solano Land Trust, was hosting a potluck lunch for Slow Food Solano that benefited local Solano County school garden program. The potluck was themed around the book Twain’s Feast: Searching for America’s Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens by Andrew Beahrs. As the story goes after traveling around Europe, Mark Twain created a menu of 80 American foods that he missed because he detested European food so much. For those of us attending we had to bring one of those dishes from his list.

Most of the food definitely had a Southern flair. From South Carolina Cheese Straws to hominy to collard greens with bacon. The list, as given through Slow Food Solano are as follows (The green ones are what people brought):
Radishes. Baked apples, with cream
Fried oysters; stewed 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.
Sliced 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 Nevada.
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 chitlings, 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 Pastries.

We brought Squash pie from our Marina di Chioggia squashes. I was actually surprised at how good it came out.

Andrew Beahrs

After the meal Andrew Beahrs, the author, discussed his book. He made a point of discussing some of the wild foods that Twain ate during his day and how many are no longer available due to the animals that make up the dish are now extinct or endangered.

It was a wonderful afternoon, but I think the one thing that surprised us the most was how many people there had heard of us. I was amazed and honored. So thank you readers!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email