Minnesota Cookbook Shines a Light on Indigenous Eating Habits: BTN LiveBIG Book Club
What do you know about Native American cuisines? Ask most people, and they’ll probably mention “Fry bread”? or its derivative, “Indian Tacos”. But these foods have about as much to do with the foundational cultures of the indigenous peoples as the deep pizza has the Neapolitan heritage.
The traditional foods of the indigenous peoples that existed before contact with Europeans were rich and diverse, drawing from the land, forests, streams and lakes what they had to offer throughout the year. From wild game and fish to native fruits, vegetables, nuts and cereals, it was a cuisine of harmony.
Chef Sean Sherman (Oglala Lakota) has made it his mission to preserve indigenous ingredients, dishes and techniques, both from a culinary and historical perspective. Sherman is the CEO of The Sioux chief, a company that provides education, catering and community services focused on revitalizing indigenous foods, especially those from the tribes that inhabit the northern plains region.
In his award-winning James Beard cookbook The native cuisine of the Sioux chef (University of Minnesota Press, 2017), Sherman offers recipes that are made exclusively from ingredients found naturally in North America. This means that there are no products or influences of European origin; no wheat flour, dairy, sugar or domesticated pork or beef. Instead, the recipes are full of ingredients such as wild turkey, venison, bison, rabbit, trout and duck, as well as amaranth, Cherokee beans, sumac, white cherries, sunflower, wild rice, corn. Oneida and more.
For Sherman, these recipes are more than just delicious meals. They are a tangible link to its own heritage and the history of its people, dating back thousands of years before Europeans introduced war, disease and cultural assimilation campaigns to decimate the original inhabitants. from North and South America. The food he serves, though shaped by contemporary technique, helps paint a nuanced and deep picture of Native Americans and their relationship to the land and water that surrounds them.
To view a sample of Sherman’s unique recipes and learn more, check out his James Beard Foundation bio page.