This weekend I was given the chance to encounter a historic dinner at Living History Farms and was excited for the chance to have a learning experience as well as a great meal. This came at perfect timing as Steven and I had just discussed taking the girls out for one of the family events.
Now I can admit, I worried it might be an experience that was too much for me. I am one of those adults that grew up being told I HAD to eat all my veggies and so forth, so when I saw menu items such as Carrots in the German Way or Cauliflowers with Parmesan Cheese, I got nervous. But I decided that I would go in with an open mind, pass anything that I wouldn’t want. Now, Steven is much more pickier than myself and even he stunned me.
When we arrived at Living History Farms, we were greeted by our first two hosts for the evening. Once the rest of our dinner party arrived, we walked to the 1875 Tangen Home. The Tangen Home is that of a middle-class family that is doing well for themselves but still looking to move up in class. Dinner parties during this time gave individuals the chance to entertain and impress their guests-showing off the latest must-haves within their parlors and of course, preparing a dinner meal complete for everyone.
Our first spot of the Tangen Home was to take a moment in the parlor to rest for a few and enjoy “Hot Punch”, a unique cranberry cider. We were told the Hot Punch was warmed on the wood-burning stove, and it definitely was a new drink I enjoyed. We talked about how in 1875, the Parlor of a home was truly the entertaining piece of a home. Every item within the parlor had a logical reasoning and to give visitors plenty to discover for conversation pieces.
As we sat around the fire burning and the room filled with oil lamps burning, it was a peaceful but fun environment. When dinner was ready, we were brought into the dining room to sit as a whole at the beautiful table. Daylight savings time had just occurred and with the lights being the same oil lamp light source those in the 1875 used, the room was dim but just right.
Each recipe was prepared from the same recipes used in 1875. Our hostess, Lucy, had cooked all of our meal told us much about the way meals were prepared and even how a recipe calling for CANNED tomatoes were a sign of honor, being able to run to the town grocer and be able to simply buy an ingredient versus that out of their gardens.
Our first course was a tomato soup with homemade croutons. As we finished our soup, we were then served a Lemon Fruit ice to prepare those tastebuds for an endless amount of delicious food.
- Roast Pork with Apples and Onions
- Potatoes a la Maitre d’Hotel
- Cauliflower with Parmesan Cheese
- Carrots in the German Way
When I saw the food coming out, my mind opened quickly to “I have got to try each and every one of these dishes. I was amazed! It was a great home-cooked meal I could not get over. With dinner rolls double the size what we see today and home made bread and butter pickles (one of Steven’s favorite!) it was so neat to learn about how 1875 Dinner Party attendees were attended to.
As the main courses wrapped up, we were escorted back into the Parlor for a chance to relax and partake in some classic games. One that had our entire group laughing was Potato Races (played with bean bags for the safety of the windows within the home). While the group hid the basket and set up an “obstacle”, two individuals ran into the room with “potato” on spoon, in hunt of the basket and who could finish fastest.
Before we knew it dessert was ready and we returned to the dining room for a unique fancy cake drizzled with a chocolate/brown sugar mixture and then given whipped cream and brandied raspberries to top it all off.
Overall, the evening of entertainment and food lasted about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The experience was amazing and something I would love to do again. Living History Farms offers historic dinners in the 1875 Tangen Home as well as the 1900 Farm Dinners. Reservations are $50 per person which some might believe is a little steep but, the chance to go back in time and experience a dinner party from the 1875 is well worth the price. You get more than food, you get a chance to learn about our history and share laughs with friends and even strangers you’ve never met. There are several menu options that a group can choose from. I already have discussed the idea of bringing my Grandma to a historic dinner at Living History Farms as a gift for Christmas.
To make reservations for a Historic Dinner Experience-
- Advance reservations are required. Call 515-278-5286 Monday through Friday for reservations.
- The first party to make a reservation selects the main entrée for all guests at that dinner.
- Historic Dinners are $50 per person. Gratuity is not included.
- Historic Dinners are an experience, not just dinner, and last about 2.5 to 3 hours.
- Guests may make reservations for 1-12 guests.
- All guests are seated together family style to create a full table of 10 to 12 guests.
To learn more about the Historic Dinners and other experiences for the entire family, check it out on Living History Farms website.
ABOUT LIVING HISTORY FARMS
The purpose of Living History Farms is to make the public aware of the significance of agriculture in the development of America. Living History Farms will present the changes that have occurred in farming methods, concepts and technology, and interpret the significance of those changes both in historical and modern life. By showing authentic models of historical and modern farming, Living History Farms enables visitors to observe and participate in these processes and relate them to their lives.
Our experience at Living History Farms was shared by the following online bloggers.
Pete Jones of Des Moines is NOT Boring
Kristin of Iowa Girl Eats
Emily Beckman of The Dish On Des Moines
Luke Matthews of Star 102.5
and all of their guests. Be sure to check out these Central Iowa bloggers and the experiences they share as well!I was invited to participate in a historic dinner with the accompaniment of a guest. All opinions are that of my own.