Dunes Learning Center will dish out taste of history ‘under harvest moon’
Acorn squash soup is a reflection of Northwest Indiana’s history.
The same can be said of French food, to a certain extent.
Some of the region’s culinary roots will be explored at “Under the Harvest Moon: An Unexpected Dining and Education Experience.”
The unique event takes place Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Dunes Learning Center in north Porter County.
Chef Tom Boldt is assembling a five-course dinner that dishes French and Cajun flavors, while evoking the aura of the Crescent City.
“I worked in New Orleans for a couple years,” said Boldt, a resident of Gary’s Miller section. “I spent a few years in New Orleans. I used to go there as a kid all the time ... .”
He has plied his trade at Commander’s Palace and Bayona, two New Orleans restaurants.
As he put together the “Harvest Moon” menu, Boldt had the task of incorporating food that reflected Northwest Indiana’s history.
Thus, there is acorn squash soup, which Native Americans introduced to European travelers.
Also featured is seared salmon and maque choux. According to promotional material from the Dunes Learning Center, maque choux is believed to have sprouted from a blend of Acadian French and American Indian influences.
“The French came to this area on their way down to New Orleans,” Boldt said.
The barbecue shrimp that’s an appetizer on Boldt’s menu is the result of a classic Creole recipe.
The French and New Orleans accents that will be part of the meal are near and dear to Boldt’s heart.
“I cook that kind of style of food anyway,” said Boldt, a chef at Crown Point’s Wittenberg Village who also cooks at 54 Main Bistro in Hobart.
All told, three entrees can be tasted at the Dunes Learning Center, along with appetizer, soup, salad and dessert.
Distinctive treats are on hand, including galantine chicken and craft beers that will complement appetizer and entrees.
The cost for the evening of food and history is $60; it’s $100 for two people who come to the event together.
The price of admission also includes a presentation called “Calumet and Duneland Beginnings: Regional History from the Ground Up.”
The narrator of this slide-show aided program will be Ken Schoon, a Munster resident who has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction, and has been involved in training science teachers.
Both a geological and historical overview of Northwest Indiana’s settler days are scheduled to be discussed by Schoon, professor emeritus of science education, Indiana University Northwest in Gary.
The region’s land was explored by French traders and was molded by wind, ice and water.
Schoon’s presentation — starting with the Ice Age — will, in his words, detail “how Lake Michigan came to be” and “how the various, former shorelines were formed.”
Schoon noted that the area’s geological history is intriguing: “U.S. 30, near Teibel’s Restaurant, was the first shoreline of Lake Michigan.”
The lake’s evolution has had a ripple effect, said the professor.
“Each of those former shorelines became Indian trails, then became stagecoach routes, then became highways,” Schoon related.
Showcasing the pioneer-era Midwest, Schoon’s talk on Oct. 19 is going to explain “how the French explorers — (Jacques) Marquette and others — used the rivers and lakes for transportation, and traded with the Native Americans who were living here.”
Proceeds from ticket sales benefit the Dunes Learning Center, which is in the Chesterton area and serves as a nonprofit environmental learning facility that is part of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.