Bella Vista Historical Museum Hosts Historical Food Tasting

BELLA VISTA — The Bella Vista Historical Museum hosted a historic food tasting on June 4.

Volunteers held tables with samples of different foods and a good number of visitors made their way to sample the delicacies. They also had the opportunity to rate their favourites.

Museum volunteer Jessica Traylor said, “We want to enrich the learning experience of what Bella Vista is all about. Having native fruits and vegetables brings [patrons] to learn about their local culture. Vintage recipes take us back to the early days of Bella Vista – the 1920s – and give us a glimpse into the past and how they enjoyed different luxuries.”

Volunteer Wendy Hughes handed out samples of papaya butter, maypop jelly, blackberry jelly, blackberry jelly, black walnuts and English walnuts. She said fruits, berries and nuts are native to the Ozarks and “fun things you can find in your backyard.”

Museum volunteer Jill Werner, who is known for donating her jellies and jams in exchange for donations to the museum, had a wide assortment of jams and jellies on hand at the event. She said she had about 30 different varieties, including all of the flower jellies she makes.

“Last time I did this in February, I didn’t have the flower jellies, and people wanted them,” she said.

Werner selected all the recipes for the event. Several years ago, she says, she hosted a presentation called “A Taste of Old Bella Vista” with historic recipes, and from there she learned a lot about the region’s historic cuisine. She combined this with her jellies and jams for the event.

The pineapple cookies came from a 1947 Bentonville cookbook called Eastern Star, she said. Some of the recipes were from a 1967 cookbook called Penny’s Ozark Kitchen. Stephenson’s potato soup and cider mill punch came from a cookbook in Stephenson’s Apple Orchard restaurant, which was just across the border, but many Bella Vista residents there had dinner, she said.

Customers were invited to take a plate and a drink and walk out to enjoy it, then come in for another plate and a drink to try all the foods.

Outside, Deb Harberts said sassafras tea was her favorite thing on the menu she tried. She had just started jamming. She said she also liked the lemon cracker, which had “just a hint of lemon in it.”

Reagan Wilson, 6, said she loves pineapple cookie, dandelion jelly and blackberry jelly. Her parents asked her why she liked blackberry jelly, to which she replied, “Because it tasted good.”

Her mother, Lindsay Wilson, said: “I absolutely loved the white rose petal jelly. I love the essence of the flowers in the jelly. The honeymoon cake was good too. I didn’t expect don’t like it.”

Xyta Lucas, Co-Chair of the Bella Vista Historical Society, said, “We are thrilled that so many people came out to enjoy historic dishes and help support the museum with their jam donations.

Rachel Dickerson/The Weekly Vista Bella Vista Historical Museum Jill Werner (left) addresses a group outside during the historic food tasting Saturday.


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Patrick F. Williams