With the forward written by W. Richard West Jr., director of the
Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.,
it doesn’t get much better than this as an honorable accomplishment for
authors Fernando and Marlene Divina. They, plus multiple colleagues from
NMAI, have compiled a richly comprehensive, well-researched tome. This will
be a classic, the real deal, the “must have” American Indian cookbook.
The first recipe I opened to was “Wild Rice and Corn Fritters.” Love at
first bite. I don’t think there is a food, preparation, or cooking method
that is not covered in one way or another. For example, the book has two
recipes for rabbit, three ways to fix berries, three ways to make stock.
There are many more two and three ways to do other foods.
What I like the most about this book is the way the past and the present
are woven throughout. Historic photographs, contemporary photos, pictures
of artifacts, the food, even a ledger drawing decorate this book. It has
descriptions and a bit of history for each recipe plus personal essays. I
love them all, but my personal favorite was that of George P. Horse Capture
and his description of reservation foods. He is a man who understands food.
I can tell this just by the way he is passionate about fry bread, bean soup
and meats prepared in various ways. I learned that certain traditional
foods are limited to special events like ceremonies, Sun Dances and wakes.
Another thing I learned was that the Americas are made up of 30 separate
countries, or more, from Canada to Argentina. South America’s cuisine is
something I’ve always wanted to know more about since we lived in Brazil
for a short while. I don’t remember much except the Argentinean meat was
At $39.95, this book is a bit pricey right now, but I was lucky enough to
receive it as a present. Even if I had not, I think it is worth every cent.
In time, perhaps a long time, there may be a paperback edition, but you
might want to try getting a copy soon before it goes into a second printing
because you won’t be sorry.