The Story of America, Told Through Mark Twain’s Favorite Foods 馬克．吐溫的美食 美國的故事
Mark Twain was a well-traveled literary superstar, so famous that his editor once journeyed to Washington to ask President Theodore Roosevelt if he would move Thanksgiving because it coincided with Twain’s birthday plans. (Twain moved his party.)
But in 1879, on a book tour through Europe, he craved the simplest foods from home, with agonizing specificity. Twain wanted Early Rose potatoes, a Vermont-bred heirloom, roasted in the ashes of a fire. Mussels from the waters around San Francisco. And hot broiled Virginia bacon.
He compiled a list, an extensive fantasy of a meal, which he imagined sitting down to enjoy right off the steamship when he got home. That list is now a snapshot of some of the most cherished regional American foods of his time.
But for a vast array of political, cultural and ecological reasons, few of Twain’s picks — terrapin, prairie chicken and raccoon among them — would be considered an integral part of our national identity today. This month, the audiobook company Audible released an eight-episode series, hosted by the actor Nick Offerman, that explores the reasons.
Offerman, who compared the taste of turtle meat to that of chicken, was eager to get his hands on some of the more esoteric foods on Twain’s list. In May, as part of the show, he organized a dinner at the Mark Twain House & Museum, the author’s carefully restored home in Hartford, Connecticut, where Twain lived with his wife, Olivia Clemens, after they were married in 1870.
Offerman asked Tyler Anderson, a Connecticut chef who competed on “Top Chef,” to put together a menu inspired by Twain’s list.
Anderson produced an eight-course meal. It started with raw oysters with a frothy sherry-maple cream, and moved on to smoked raccoon sausage wrapped in caul fat. The fifth course was sheepshead, a tough, bony fish he poached in olive oil and served with potato purée.
The audio series, loosely based on Beahrs’ 2010 book “Twain’s Feast,” includes plenty of snippets from that dinner, along with excerpts from Twain’s fiction and memoir, weaving in new interviews and reporting that examine changes all over the country through the prolific author’s palate.
Each episode of the series focuses on a different ingredient that Twain loved. Raccoons, like sheepshead, are still plentiful, but the recipes for its meat that were published in the original edition of “Joy of Cooking” have since been edited out. Tastes change.
Justin Trudeau’s Official Home: Unfit for a Leader or Anyone Else 加拿大總理官邸 不宜人居
At Canada’s official residence for its prime minister, security cameras keep silent watch over the fences, visitors pass through gates that can block truck bombs and a detail of uniformed Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers patrol day and night.
But the prime minister himself is unlikely to be found inside.
When Justin Trudeau became prime minister three years ago, he took a pass on moving his family into the official residence at 24 Sussex Drive, built in 1868 by an American-born lumber baron. Decades of neglect had turned Canada’s top political address into its most famous home renovation project.
But no recent prime ministers have been willing to commit the tens of millions of dollars it would take to make the stone house habitable again. It would look as if they were spending money on themselves, a politically toxic step in Canada.
Trudeau, 46, who lived at 24 Sussex as a child when his father was prime minister, is no exception.
“No prime minister wants to spend a penny of taxpayer dollars on upkeeping that house,” Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. earlier this year.
There was little criticism of Trudeau’s decision to live with his wife and their three children in Rideau Cottage, a relatively modest, two-story red brick house behind Rideau Hall, the house of Canada’s governor general who fulfills Queen Elizabeth II’s duties as head of state.
That is because the official residence’s deteriorating condition is no secret to Canadians, with government reports documenting its decline for more than a decade.
Those reports make grim reading for anyone but a contractor hoping to land the renovation job.
“The building systems at 24 Sussex have reached the point of imminent or actual failure,” one report, by the National Capital Commission, the federal agency that manages official residences, found this year. It rated the residence’s condition as “critical.”
The building by a pool added by Trudeau’s father is “rotting,” the report said, and air-conditioning comes from inefficient window units that could make it easy for intruders to slip in. Many of those windows need replacement anyway. Everywhere there is asbestos.
On top of all that, the house is ill-suited for official functions. Among the house’s many deficiencies, “the dining room is at the same time too large for a family and too small for state dinners,” the report said.