Local foods have garnered much attention in recent years, but the concept is hardly new: Indigenous peoples have always made the most of nature’s gifts. Their menus were truly the “original local,” celebrated here in this cookbook with 135 home-tested recipes paired with stories from tribal activists, food researchers, families and chefs.
A chapter devoted to wild rice makes clear the crucial role manoomin plays in Native cultures. Similar attention is lavished on the tallest of the Three Sisters: mandamin, or corn. The bounty of the region’s lakes and streams (walleye, whitefish and more) inspire flavorful combinations and fierce protection of resources. Health concerns have encouraged Ojibwe, Dakota and Lakota cooks to return to, and revise, recipes for bison, venison and wild game. Sections on vegetables and beans, herbs and tea, and maple and berries offer insight from a broad representation of regional tribes, including Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Potawatomi and Mandan gardeners and harvesters.
The innovative recipes collected here (from Maple Baked Cranberry Beans to Three Sisters Salsa, from Manoomin Lasagna to Black and Blue Bison Stew) will inspire home cooks not only to make better use of the foods all around them but also to honor the storied heritage they represent.