It feels rather on the nose to examine the burgeoning national Native American food trend from a perch in Northern New Mexico, where much of our local cuisine bears some indigenous influence, but here we have it. In recent months, The New York Times, National Geographic, and The Atlantic have explored a resurgence of interest in Native cooking and ingredients, while Travel + Leisure came to Santa Fe to probe the locus of Native cooking. Meanwhile, in September, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture hosted a two-day symposium on reclaiming Native health and wellness traditions called The Food Sovereignty Project.
Chef Edgar Beas of the Anasazi Restaurant at the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi (113 Washington Ave.), one of a very few restaurants in town that currently aims to showcase uniquely Native ingredients and cooking techniques, traces the interest in ancestral cuisine to the locavore and farm-to-table movements. Beas said that more and more, “Customers appreciate how everything’s grown and where it comes from. I think the Native food thing is maybe an extension of that.” In the winter months, Beas focuses on dry local ingredients with Native roots, such as blue cornmeal, Anasazi beans, and red chile, as well as ancient culinary techniques like smoking with needles and cooking over stone. As the weather warms, he’ll forage for juniper berries, wild mushrooms, and flowers. He’s not alone: Chef John Rivera Sedlar of Eloisa (228 E. Palace Ave.) focused a recent seminar on local Native cornmeal growers. “We’re all kind of being exposed to that more now,” Beas said, proving that however ironic a Native food trend might seem in the land of the Ancestral Pueblo, there’s always room to learn.