If you live in an area that is heavily populated with roving food vendors, you have probably run into trucks or carts that sold anything from fusion tacos to French cuisine to barbecued meat. One cuisine that seems to have been missed (until we read a story about one popping up in Washington DC shortly) has been Native American Cuisine. This got us to think, that it may just be time to see more of this cuisine featured around the mobile food industry by introducing its history.
Traditional Native American cooking was done using a variety of tools such as grinding stones, earthenware pottery, and cooking baskets. Many of these cooking methods were adopted and improved by European settlers and some are still used by the Native Americans today, although many may not meet your local health department requirements, so check there first before purchasing these tools.
This style of cooking is known by most of us to consist primarily of maize, or corn products, and bison meat. Cornbread, for example, was a staple of the Native American diet and succotash, a combination of beans, corn, and tomatoes, also began with the Native Americans. Additionally to the creation of a number of delicious recipes, the Native Americans developed a number of innovative cooking methods.
They used what resources they had available to come up with ways to boil, bake, and roast their food. Some of these traditional Native American cooking methods are still utilized by Native Americans today, and many of them were adopted and adapted by European settlers. This can lead to some fun kitchen experimentation, by taking the old tools and finding ways to use modern cooking equipment, you may find a much more efficient way to prepare these meals.
Traditional Cooking Utensils
The Native Americans used a variety of materials to make cooking utensils. Stones were used as slabs and bowls for grinding acorns and maize into flour. Gourds were hollowed out and dried to be used as spoons, bowls, and storage containers (we aren’t sure how many customers would appreciate receiving their meal in a gourd).
Staples of Traditional Native American Cooking
Maize (corn), beans, and squash are often referred to as “The Three Sisters” staples of traditional Native American cooking. This trio gained its name because the Native Americans planted them to grow among each other, gaining strength from the other plants as they grew. Squash was planted at the base of the maize stalks to provide support and protection for the roots of the three plants and the beans were allowed to grow up the maize stalks. In addition to “The Three Sisters,” many Native American meals included salmon and other fish as well as game like deer, rabbit, duck, and bison.
Native American Dishes
Many dishes which are popular in American today have been adapted from traditional Native American cooking methods and recipes. Corn bread, for example, was a staple of the Native American diet for many years before Europeans arrived on the continent. Frybread was another popular food item, served both in the home and at gatherings; either alone or with a topping like honey. In addition to breads, Native Americans are known for making a variety of soups and vegetable dishes. Succotash, a mixture of Lima beans, tomatoes, and corn, though first used by the Native Americans, became popular during the Great Depression because the ingredients were relatively inexpensive. Native American soups and stews typically consisted of a combination of available meats and vegetables like buffalo and mutton. In addition to these traditional dishes, Native Americans also made beverages like Black Drink, a ceremonial beverage brewed from the leaves and stems of Yaupon Holly, and whiskey, made from ground maize.
We hope you found this article informative, and will help in starting a new revolution of Native American food trucks traveling around the streets of a city near you.
“United States Native Americans,” http://www.foodbycountry.com/Spain-to-Zimbabwe-Cumulative-Index/United-States-Native-Americans.html