It makes for a rollicking story. But also a sad one, as the American table lost much of what was regionally distinctive about it over the course of Twain's lifetime. Railroads suddenly linked the country end-to-end, and the invention of ice cars meant that, for the first time, food could be shipped long distances. In the beginning of Twain's life, ingredients were, by necessity, local and seasonal, and he relished a good roast prairie hen. By the end, those birds were being shipped from the Midwest to feed voracious appetites on both coasts, and their popularity was pretty much the death of them.