Feast of the Hunters' Moon - Gastro Obscura
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Feast of the Hunters' Moon

The autumn event re-creates meals shared by French settlers and Native Americans at an 18th-century fort.

For more than 50 years, history buffs have gathered at Fort Ouiatenon in West Lafayette, Indiana, to honor the area’s rich history with the Feast of the Hunters’ Moon. The two-day affair, held the first weekend of October, consists of music, historical reenactments, and, of course, food.

From 1717 to 1761, Fort Ouiatenon (“wee-ah-teh-non”) was a French outpost where settlers and Native Americans convened to trade goods, share news, and occasionally eat collective meals. A particularly special meal was the annual autumn feast, when crops had been harvested and hunting was good. The Tippecanoe County Historical Association and feast organizers work to preserve a sense of historical authenticity in recreating the meal. A committee reviews the recipes submitted by potential vendors, making sure they are representative of the 18th century and feature ingredients that would have been native or obtained through trade, such as corn, beans, squash, molasses, fruit, and wild game.

Despite historical restrictions, there is no shortage of flavor: Rabbit stew, turkey legs, and herb-rubbed pork chops cook slowly over open fires, while sweet-seekers can find satisfaction in rock candies, fruit-filled crepes, gingerbread, and candy apples. Once stomachs have been satisfied, visitors can tap into feast-adjacent activities, learning how to make gentry gourds into measuring spoons, bake bread from of local grains, or turn animal fat and ash into soap. Though not required, historically-appropriate costumes are encouraged. So grab your musket and don’t forget to pack your pemmican.

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