Wining and dining for history's sake

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Lewis and Clark probably never ate this well.

But in their honor, 46 area residents paid $100 a plate Saturday night to dine on smoked duck, smoked trout, venison, dried cherries and an assortment of French wines.

A Colonial Ball followed at the Osage Community Centre. The two events combined raised about $7,000 to help finance construction of the Red House, a replica of Cape Girardeau founder Louis Lorimier's 1803 trading post.

Beaver and grizzly bear -- which Meriwether Lewis and William Clark certainly had during their expedition -- weren't on the menu Saturday night. But chef James Allen said the food served at his Cape Girardeau restaurant, Celebrations by Request, involved the kinds of meat and other items that were popular in the early 1800s.

The menu included a type of French bread. Lewis and Clark would have eaten a concoction involving sliced stale bread, Allen said. No stale bread was used in Allen's culinary creations.

Unlike the Lewis and Clark expedition 200 years ago, nothing was cooked in bear fat, Allen said.

Dressed for dinner

Some people dressed the part for the Lewis and Clark dinner. Tom Harte, a local food columnist, brought a coonskin cap.

Harte said the food was grand. Lewis and Clark, he said, would have liked the meal.

Jane Randol Jackson, who chairs the Cape Girardeau Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Committee, dined in a long, simple dress that would have been common with farm families in the early 1800s.

Jackson said Cape Girardeau's planned celebration of the Lewis and Clark expedition has drawn attention to the Mississippi River town's local history.

The Red House, located in downtown Cape Girardeau, is scheduled to open on Nov. 21 as part of the local Lewis and Clark bicentennial celebration and will become a permanent museum that will focus on Lorimier's life.

Lewis and Clark arrived in Cape Girardeau on Nov. 23, 1803, and were greeted by Lorimier. After staying one night in Cape Girardeau, the expedition continued north toward St. Louis.

Cape Girardeau physician Scott Gibbs of Cape Girardeau and his wife, Barb, dressed as Indians in buckskin. Gibbs carried his pager with him. "I am a modern medicine man," he quipped.

Gibbs said Lewis and Clark's expedition and their stop in Cape Girardeau should be remembered. It reminds people how far the city has come, he said. "This was a frontier city 200 years ago," said Gibbs.

About 200 tickets were sold for the Colonial Ball, which began at 8 p.m. By 8:30, about 50 people had arrived, some of them dressed in period costumes.

The band, Mid Life Crisis, belted out some rock 'n' roll tunes. "I don't think the music is authentic," joked Loretta Schneider, a former Cape Girardeau city councilwoman whose period dress included a bonnet.

Bill Caldwell of Cape Girardeau sported a vest and black top hat for the occasion. "I think it's great," he said of celebrating the travels of Lewis and Clark. "That is what opened up the territory."

Caldwell and his wife, Frieda, said they like dancing the Contra Dance, an old-fashioned dance from Lewis and Clark days. "It's easier than square dancing," she said.

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