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Jun 26, 2020

The table was overloaded when Hoosier History Live served up a show on topics related to the foods of the pioneers earlier this year. So during this show, we will savor additional, fresh aspects of what and how Indiana residents ate during the 1820s, '30s and '40s.

Which members of pioneer households worked in the gardens? Did early settlers really believe tomatoes were poisonous?

How was the corn grown in the pioneer era different from what's cultivated in Hoosier soil today?

Indianapolis-based food historian Sheryl Vanderstel will discuss those and other topics that we were not able to explore when she was our guest in April. In addition, Sheryl is planning to share insights about aspects of what she calls "food etiquette," of the pioneer era, customs ranging from "tableware to table settings, serving and meal manners."

"Table manners varied by social class and ethnic groups, just as they do today," she says.

Typically, every member of an Indiana pioneer household had a prescribed role in maintaining the family garden, Sheryl notes. In addition to vegetables and fruits, the gardens included herbs for cooking and medicinal use.

A native Hoosier whose ancestors were pioneers, Sheryl is a former assistant director of education at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, where her duties included overseeing hearthside dinners and other food programs.

She has been involved in food programming at other historic sites and museums as well as educational seminars about historic foods. Sheryl is a board member of the Irvington Historical Society.