You won’t find possum on a single restaurant menu in Austin.
Even though it’s now almost commonplace for chefs to buy or even forage locally sourced ingredients and use every part of a pig or a cow, the lowly possum remains a relic of our eating past.
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History Center events
“How to Prepare A Possum: 19th Century Cuisine in Austin” will be on display at the Austin History Center, 810 Guadalupe St., through Jan. 10, and the center is hosting a number of free events this year to help Austinites get an even deeper understanding of the city through its food history.
• From 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, the center will host a free opening reception for “How to Prepare a Possum,” which will feature dishes inspired by the exhibit from chefs and students from the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Austin.
• At 6 p.m. July 31, the history center and Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd., are recreating a typical 19th century beer garden experience, including a presentation on the exhibit from Mike Miller, musical entertainment from fiddler Howard Rains and a traditional German meal. (The event is free, but guests are asked to pay for their own food and drinks.)
• At 6:30 p.m. Sept. 10, food writer and historian Toni Tipton-Martin will talk about the pioneering African-American entrepreneurs who set up businesses along East Sixth Street, and the center will host a screening of the documentary “Mama Sugar.”
• At the history center at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 22, Elizabeth Engelhardt, author of “A Mess of Greens,” will talk about the role of gender, class and race in the history of food in Austin’s early days, as well as in the South at large.
For more information on any of these events or the exhibit itself, visit austinhistorycenter.org or call 512-974-7480.
Most of the recipes in the Austin History Center’s new exhibit won’t translate well in modern kitchens, but this milk punch from the Niles-Graham-Pease papers is a pretty good example of how recipes were written during the time, and it’s simple (and appealing) enough that you could recreate it at home more than a century later.
One glass sweet milk
Two Teaspoonfulls pulverized sugar
One Tablespoonfull Bourbon Whiskey
One Tablespoonfull Jamaican Rum
Put in shaker with crushed ice and shake well.
— Niles-Graham-Pease papers, courtesy of the Austin History Center