THE EMER­GENCE OF NA­TIVE CUI­SINE

RSWLiving - - Holiday Special - Ali­son Roberts-Tse has been hap­haz­ardly scrib­bling in jour­nals since she was a small-town small-fry. She has de­grees in com­mu­ni­ca­tions and dance from the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin, Madi­son. She now lives in Lon­don, spends time on Sani­bel and ob­ses­sively pla

Although there are only a hand­ful of Na­tive Amer­i­can eater­ies scat­tered across the coun­try, na­tive cui­sine is com­ing into vogue. Na­tive food “can cen­ter us,” ex­plains David Ruiz, ex­ec­u­tive chef of the Pue­blo Har­vest Cafe in Al­bu­querque, New Mex­ico. “It can an­swer our ques­tion of, ‘What’s our home food?’ ”

Ad­di­tion­ally, Na­tive Amer­i­can cui­sine aids in the gen­eral quest for whole, nat­u­ral, lo­cal and sus­tain­able foods. Boris Revilla, food and bev­er­age direc­tor at Pue­blo Har­vest Cafe, says, “Na­tive Amer­i­can cui­sine rep­re­sents the orig­i­nal lo­cal, fresh, healthy ap­proach to eat­ing―and it’s full of de­li­cious fla­vors,” prov­ing there are many ben­e­fits of eat­ing tra­di­tional na­tive cui­sine, he adds.

Na­tive Amer­i­can food is gain­ing a larger pub­lic foothold, and na­tive restau­rants are of­ten open­ing that door. In New Mex­ico, for ex­am­ple, Pue­blo Har­vest Cafe seeks to ex­pose din­ers’ pal­ettes to indige­nous in­gre­di­ents in ex­cit­ing ways by rein­ter­pret­ing them. For ex­am­ple, its Three Sis­ters Rata­touille dish in­cor­po­rates tra­di­tional squash, beans and corn, yet fea­tures a black-bean purée and sweet corn. Mod­ern rein­ter­pre­ta­tions in­vite food­ies to sam­ple na­tive cui­sine; recipes may bring a rich Span­ish mix­ture of chilies, sautéed cac­tus and cal­abac­i­tas con puerco, for ex­am­ple.

In Min­neapo­lis, The Sioux Chef uses food as a plat­form for Na­tive Amer­i­can cul­tural out­reach. The cater­ing com­pany holds for­ag­ing events and leads cook­ing classes, dis­sem­i­nat­ing an­ces­tral knowl­edge as tribal mem­bers also re­claim their gas­tro­nomic her­itage. Th­ese ed­u­ca­tional ini­tia­tives in­vite Amer­i­cans of ev­ery back­ground to learn about Na­tive Amer­i­can cul­ture, thereby in­creas­ing their pres­ence in gen­eral Amer­i­can cul­ture, by way of food.

With its rich his­tory, Na­tive Amer­i­can cui­sine is not just a trend and can be ap­pre­ci­ated any day of the year, not just on Thanks­giv­ing.

The Bi­son Poyha Sand­wich with chokecherry sauce at Pue­blo Har­vest Cafe. Top: The cafe's chef David Ruiz (left) and the award-win­ning Tewa Taco, a com­bi­na­tion of pue­blo beans, ground beef, shred­ded cheese, let­tuce, tomato, onion and chile on fr ybread.

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