Where to find prehistoric Texas food today? At a gala, naturally

12:00 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017 Austin360 Eats
Prickly pear is an ingredient commonly used through Texas’ long history, even before European settlers arrived. Larry Kolvoord/American-Statesman

What is traditional Texas food?

Queso, barbecue and tacos might come to mind, but what if you went further back to prehistoric Texas, when the ingredients you might use to make a meal would include acorns, pecans, deer, dove, persimmons or prickly pear?

Honoring the long history of Texas, particularly before European settlers arrived, has been the mission of the Texas Botanical Gardens and Native American Interpretive Center in Goldthwaite since it opened in 2014, but supporters of the garden (and soon-to-be-under-construction museum) have been raising money every fall with a swanky dinner up in Mills County.

I went to one of the Prairie Experience gala dinners many years ago that was prepared by the chef of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, but this year’s eighth annual event on Oct. 7 will showcase the locavore talents of Dai Due owner Jesse Griffiths.

Through Griffiths’ New School of Traditional Cookery , he hosts classes and guided hunts to help food lovers learn more about where their food comes from, as well as the original foodways of Texas. At the dinner in early October, he’ll prepare each course using venison, wild boar, catfish, dove, nopales and many other native Texas ingredients. In addition to the dinner at Legacy Plaza’s Pavilion, at the corner of U.S. 183 and Second Street in Goldthwaite, Texas guests will have a chance to bid on lots of auction items, including several from Dai Due and its hunting and cooking school.

The event starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, and tickets cost $150. If you don’t want to make the 90-minute drive to Goldthwaite, you can catch the shuttle from Austin for an extra $50. All the proceeds will help cover the costs of the educational programs at the garden and interpretive center and the museum, which should break ground soon. You can buy tickets by calling 325-642-7527 or emailing contact@legacyplaza.org by Sept. 29.

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