This Literary Thursday I wanted to focus on Andrew Beahrs’ “Twain’s Feast”, which I listened to on Audible and will be reading the print version of in April. This book is a wonderful book for the southern foodie or food historian. Andrew has done a beautiful extensive study on the types of foods Mark Twain enjoyed and experienced in the historical south. While the foods that are shared are not all Southern based, the atmosphere of the book remains that of the Southern Gentleman savoring meals across the U.S.
One of the reasons I really enjoyed the Audible version of this (besides that Nick Offerman reads it) is that we get to hear from the people actually living with the foods day to day, as well as the environmental sounds. My favorite was listening to hounds baying in the coon hunt. I love listening to hounds ya’ll. We get to listen to the raspy words of a farmer, the trickle of the rivers as fishing is discussed, and duck calls. It brought so much feeling to this food anthology and I really appreciated that.
Andrew guides readers through preparations and servings of some of Twain’s favorite dishes, including, yes, coon. Other dishes include lake trout, duck, baked apples with cream, coffee and my personal favorite, sheepshead, which takes a center stage in the book.
In the Audible version, Nick Offerman and company sit down over a meal of Twain’s favorites, discussing the taste, visuals, smells and the history of the dishes. Each dish has a unique story to go with it, including the history of the food, real life harvesting of the foods and interviews with those who make it every day. I’m so excited to see how the in print version reflects this, but I imagine the Audible is hard to beat. It has been hailed in various publications across the U.S. and is worth several listens. I’ve linked both versions below. I hope you’ll join in with me and maybe we can discuss it together, or try the foods!