Nick Offerman Serves Up Twain’s Feast, a Literary Food Tour in Audiobook Form

The “Parks and Rec” star eats everything from raccoon to terrapin soup in honor of “Tom Sawyer” author Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Left: Matthew Brady/Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons; Right: istockphoto.com

Back in 1879, the writer we know as Mark Twain dreamed of a fantasy meal. Now, in 2018, “Parks and Recreation” star Nick Offerman helped bring it to life. Offerman and guests including comedian Wanda Sykes and musician Jeff Tweedy come together for an audiobook called “Twain’s Feast,” an elaborate re-imagining of the 2010 book by Andrew Beahrs.

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Beahrs’ book, “Twain's Feast: Searching for America's Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens,” was inspired by a tour of Europe that Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, took in 1879. Sick of European hotel cooking, Twain wrote a fantasy menu of the American foods he missed so much, from hot southern biscuits to Lake Tahoe trout.

Nick Offerman

Audible

Beahrs looked at Twain’s list, and used it as his guide to a lost culinary America, seeking out everything from stewed possum to “clear” maple syrup, filtered to remove the leaves and twigs that normally clogged syrup of the time.

In the eight-part Audible Original series inspired by “Twain’s Feast,” Offerman doesn’t simply read Beahrs’ book. Instead he interviews the author and other Twain scholars, and dines on a full meal of some of the items (including smoked raccoon) as prepared by chef Tyler Anderson at the Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, where the author once lived. By exploring eight of Twain’s favorite foods, Offerman presents the story of the author’s life, and of the food history of the nation.

“The result is as close as you’ll ever get to eating with Mark Twain without a time machine,” The Washington Post writes in a review. “What starts as a tasty meal becomes a rich exploration of American history.”

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“Twain’s Feast” is free for Audible members during the entire month of November, and non-members can purchase it for $8.95. And if smoked raccoon isn’t your style, just remember: There have been plenty of oddball foods over the years. Check out 25 retro recipes you won’t believe people actually made.