Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditionsby Fernando & Marlene Divina
Ten Speed Press, 208 pp., $39.95
Released by the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian as a tribute to the Native contribution to American cuisine, Foods of the Americas compiles recipes representing tribes and communities from all regions of the Americas. While the recipes are adapted to the modern American kitchen and palate and include ingredients not available to ancient American cultures, they are nonetheless interesting and appetizing. In my opinion, the adaptations of some of Diana Kennedy's Mexican recipes seem redundant, and I was rather disappointed to see "habanero" wrongly spelled with an "ñ" on a book of this caliber. However, I found the Hawaiian recipes like pickled mangoes and poke (an appetizer made from raw fish marinated in lime juice) and Alaskan recipes such as Dungeness crab and scallop chowder rather compelling, especially since these groups are often left out of the general notion of "Native Americans." My favorite part of the book is the short essays by American Indian writers, most of them involved with the museum or other American Indian cultural organizations, that accompany every chapter. These offer personal insights into a variety of indigenous food traditions of North American tribes, from community gardens to making fry bread to gathering wild berries and roots to the culture of salmon fishing and cooking. Foods of the Americas is enhanced by very good food photography and wonderful archival images from the museum's collection.