Kate and I were invited to attend another session of Feasting on History at the Corydon Capitol State Historic site. The last one we attended was Feasting with the Presidents, where we were presented wtih delicious food that might have appeared on the table of some of our early presidents. Last night, we had a delightful time renewing old acquaintances and making new ones as we enjoyed an evening in the atmosphere of a tavern in the Indiana territory, early 1800’s. Laura van Fossen, Nancy Snyder and their band of historians made a mighty effort to bring forth from the kitchen some marvelous dishes, piping hot and delicious. The names beside each dish on the Bill of Fare represent tavern owners of the time, and their recipes of the period.
Laura van Fossen was in fine voice, as usual, as she shared some period ballads with us, to guitar accompaniment (sorry, we didn’t get a photo of the musician by himself).
We had a historian/raconteur/good friend in attendance, Jamie Eiler (appearing in character as Billy Boone) who regaled us with tales of past doings within the walls of some of the taverns of the day. His ‘period clothing’, complete with a small pistol tucked into the top of his boot, made his stories quite believable, although he did toss in a few ‘groaner puns’. Good ole Jamie! 🙂
We learned that these taverns were not ‘places to go get drunk’, they were community dining places, meeting places, and yes, alcohol was served. There were brawls, fights, and who knows, maybe some marital arrangements were made between a young swain and his maiden. Our early taverns were modeled after English taverns of the time, but one custom in our taverns caused some European visitors to look down their noses, namely, the practice of travelers sharing beds with complete strangers. Scandalous, wot?
Everything about the evening was just perfect – good food, good friends, a dash of history (salted with humor). What larks! (as Dickens might say). I’ve included some candid shots here at the bottom so you can get an idea of the venue, and of the folks who came to enjoy a night away from our frozen homes this cold February evening.