Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions

Comments Off on Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions | November 27, 2015

Foods of the Americas (2010)

Cover art from 2010 printing


Although information regarding the origins of Foods of the Americas is somewhat sparse, something can be said of its contents and purpose. The cookbook is a compilation of various recipes tracing their roots to multiple tribes and nations in the North, Central, and South Americas. It includes not only recipes but essays as well from Native American authors describing the relationships had between culture and food in their lives. Overall, the book itself was written to pay homage to the predecessors of the western continents and help the readers and food enthusiasts relive that culture in a way that is possible in this modern culture.

The book was written by Fernando and Marlene Divina (pictured above), two food historians with Native American roots and interests – Marlene being a member of the Chippewa tribe and Fernando as a restauranteur in the Northwest United States. The idea to create the book was theirs, but they received help through a collaborative effort with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. The Smithsonian pulley their resources to make the book a reality – providing a large amount of substance and material. This is largely evident in the included essays which were gathered from associates to the museum. The cookbook was published in 2004.

The book provides recipes for a multiplicity of foods – with around one-hundred forty dishes in total. Tribes spotlighted range from the Maya to Hopi, with many other known and not-well-known cultures and groups. However, the focus is not on exact replication of period-true dishes as much as it is the essence of those dishes and their relation to experiencing them in modern times. The authors encourage the use of modern techniques for cooking as well as alternate ingredients where needed (or desired). These appear throughout the introductory texts to the dishes as well as in the instructions themselves. Effort is put toward encouraging the reader to expand their knowledge not only of cooking the dish, but also of trying to understand its importance within that region and culture.

In all, the book serves more as an introductory course to Native American meals and their re-creation. It aims to generate a desire for the reader to continue in their research of historical recipes and elaborate on the current recipes as well as experiment with them as well. It is written in a modern light with hopes that people today can experience the past in this time period.

Recipes from Foods of the Americas