Our food culture has shifted and changed dramatically through the last couple hundred years. Certainly one of the most dramatic was the introduction of European foods and recipes during the colonization process.
While I love apple pie just as much as the next person, I find the topic of native foods and cultures fascinating. I think it's sad that tribes were forced to lose so much of their culture (including their foods), and it always thrills me to hear about the rediscovery of that rich history.
One chef, Sean Sherman from the Oglala Lakota tribe, is doing just that. Self-named the "Sioux Chef," Sherman is sharing his knowledge of traditional foods by presenting them as gourmet foods through his catering company. His presentations make my mouth water. Sherman is hoping to open a restaurant soon based on those native foods, and when he does, it's one that I certainly would love to visit! On his website he says, “Native American foods are the original local and organics. Without the use of 'Global Ingredients', we are bringing back to life and utilizing the flavors of the Plains, Rivers Valleys, Forests and Lakes of the Upper Midwest. Flavors like chokecherry, timpsula root, maple, wild rice, sumac, pine, wild mint, wild onion, cattail, deer, turkey, duck, rabbit, bison... We are anxious to showcase to the world that the culinary history and flavors of America's Native peoples are beautiful, bountiful and sacred.”
You can see how he combines his traditional ingredients in modern recipes on his website, where he talks about dishes such as wild rice flat bread with turkey, dried sweet potatoes with raspberries, smoked duck with wild rice flat bread and mushrooms, cedar stewed rabbit with fiddlehead ferns and kidney beans, smoked perch with sumac syrup, white corn mash, and sprouts, and more.
There's another reason this topic fascinates me. Many people have discovered that going back to their culinary roots can be an important part of regaining their health. An example is the native American tribe members who are fighting diabetes by returning to their traditional diet.
This is truly local, beautiful food that nourishes body and soul. I wish every success to Sean as he expands into a restaurant.
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