Mark Twain on Local Food

A great article about Mark Twain and his love of region specific food:

Whether he was in San Francisco savoring Olympia oysters, rafting down Germany’s Neckar River with a cold beer, or in Hawaii tasting flying fish for the first time, Mark Twain had a love of food that was inseparable from his love of life. Remembering the fried chicken, cornbread, and fresh garden vegetables served on his Uncle John Quarles’s prairie farm, he wrote, brought him nearly to tears. Whenever he recorded in his journal that he’d enjoyed a trout supper, it was certain that he’d ended the day content. And when he recalled stage coaching through the Rockies, he reflected that nothing helps scenery like “ham and eggs … ham and eggs and scenery, a ‘down grade,’ a flying coach, a fragrant pipe and a contented heart—these make happiness. It is what all the ages have struggled for.”

But the joy Twain took from food was most vivid in a long fantasy menu of favorite American dishes he composed towards the end of his 1879 European tour . Having suffered through more than a year of dismal hotel cooking, he wrote down the 85 dishes he said he wanted waiting for him the moment he arrived home. The menu ranged from fresh American produce like butter beans, asparagus, pumpkins, and “green corn, on the ear” to meats like porterhouse steak and broiled chicken to regional dishes like Southern-style hoe-cake and “oysters, roasted in the shell, Northern style.” But of all the fresh, local dishes of his imagined feast, the most deeply rooted , the most inherent to specific American places, were wild.

(Found via The Atlantic Food Channel.)