Cover image for Foods of the Americas : native recipes and traditions
Foods of the Americas : native recipes and traditions
Divina, Fernando.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : Ten Speed Press, 2004.
Physical Description:
224 pages; color illustrations: 29 cm
General Note:
"Published in association with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TX715 .D5883 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



Reflecting the culinary traditions of the native peoples of the Americas, this intriguing cookbook features a collection of illustrated short essays that reflect a Native American perspective on indigenous food traditions, accompanied by 140 modern recipes that incorporate foods cultivated by native people.

Author Notes

FERNANDO DIVINA has been the executive chef at several acclaimed restaurants. Together with his wife, MARLENE, he owns Divina Restaurant Concepts, which since 1989 has provided restaurant planning services and menu guidelines for a wide array of clients--most notably the National Museum of the American Indian's Mitsitam Café. The Divinas' articles and photography have appeared in such publications as The Oregonian, Northwest Indian Magazine, and Arizona Food and Lifestyles Magazine. The Divinas and their son, Zoey, are based in Arizona.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Native American indigenous foods are only rarely celebrated by present-day Americans. Thanks to some thoughtful work by the Divinas, there is now a comprehensive cookbook covering the full range of native cuisine from all the diverse original inhabitants of the Americas. The Divinas offer recipes not just from North American Plains tribes but also from the peoples of Mexico, South America, the Arctic, and even Hawaii. Three different recipes for preparing rabbit illustrate the differences among the Native American cultures: one from Colombia braises the legs and thighs in coconut milk, a Great Basin version uses herbs and peppers, and a Peruvian-style employs garlic and ginger. Rabbit may be easily obtained in many markets, but recipes calling for wild boar or wild goose may be more difficult to reproduce. As befits the region's reputation for sophisticated cooking, the book's most complex dish involves stewing pork in a green mole sauce typical of Oaxaca. This treatise will be a boon for teens studying Native American cultures as well as for anyone curious about this land's first foods. --Mark Knoblauch Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

From potted smoked salmon of the Pacific Northwest to Peruvian ceviche, Brazilian cozido and Hawaiian poke, this book tries to cover over 3,000 miles of indigenous food traditions. But while the geographical scope of the book makes it fascinating to browse, it also limits readers? ability to actually cook several of the recipes without extensive use of mail-ordered ingredients: where fresh cattails are available for Cattail Cakes, limu kohu (a popular Hawaiian seaweed used in Poke Aku) will likely not be. And a wild food guide would be essential to recreate many of the recipes that require foraging for ingredients. Occasionally, helpful substitutions are provided: fennel seed instead of licorice fern in Venison with Juniper and Wild Huckleberry Sauce or rosemary rather than pine needles for Coos-Style Grilled Squab. A few delicious berry and fruit recipes (Fresh Berry Leather, Raw Fresh Berry Jam, Huckleberry Sorbet, Wild Grape Dumplings, etc.) provide multiple substitutions for local berries and are simple to prepare. And though they took three times the water listed in the recipe to make, Wild Mustard Seed and Allium Crackers are quick, spicy and addictive. A long essay, ?Reservation Foods,? by George P. Horse Capture illuminates the adaptability of traditional cuisines to modern kitchens: his memories of childhood favorites include both scrambled powdered eggs and lard rolled in pemmican. Many of the book?s other essays focus on individual foods?maple syrup, corn, berries?but are too short to provide more than a glimpse of modern culture. But for all its flaws, this book serves as a fine introduction to a much larger project: the influence of native cooking on the modern culinary traditions. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

The National Museum of the American Indian will open in Washington, DC, in September, and the Divinas developed the menu for the on-site caf?. Here they present some 150 modern interpretations of traditional native dishesAor variations thereonAfrom North and South America: Aleutian-Style Dungeness Crab and Scallop Chowder, Avocado and Shrimp Salad by way of Chile, and Colombian-Style Rabbit with Coconut Milk. Many of the recipes are rather sophisticated, yet some of the most contemporary-seeming dishes come with a truly ancient pedigree. Experts in the field have contributed essays on such topics as reservation food and community gardens and the cycle of life, and there are illustrations and period photographs from the museum's archives throughout. For most collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Introduction     Among the most fundamental of any culture's traditions are those surrounding its cuisine. For American Indian people, local foods and traditional ways of preparing food have always been and remain important sources of spirituality and community. Native recipes likewise reflect the diversity and adaptability of indigenous cultures.   It is fitting, then, that Foods of the Americas arises out of our work with the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, which takes as a guiding principle the affirmation of Native values. Created in 1989 in collaboration with Native communities throughout North, Central, and South America, the museum reflects Native American cultures from the Native perspective. The goal of this collection of recipes, essays, and images is to provide a sense of the diverse landscapes, the basic flavors, and the strong, vital cultures that have together produced a truly indigenous American cuisine.   Native American groups have acquired intimate knowledge of the foods that surround them, and they have cultivated to the fullest the food sources nearest at hand. Plains Indian tribes used every part of the buffalo they hunted. Northwest Coast peoples developed myriad techniques for preserving year-round the salmon that crowded their rivers only during certain seasons. People of the wooded Northeast and Great Lakes regions created hundreds of recipes, both culinary and medicinal, for the nuts that grew around them in abundance. And with the cultivation of maize, beginning some seven to ten thousand years ago in Mexico, corn became the physical and spiritual foundation of most American Indian cultures.   Most people don't pay close attention to the origins of the foods they enjoy today. Many foods commonly found on our shelves are credited to European or Asian origin-- Irish potatoes, Italian tomatoes, and Thai chiles. But all of these foods originated here in the Americas. Potatoes were domesticated and bred by pre-Inka civilizations. Tomatoes and chiles were widely grown throughout South, Central, and North America before the arrival of the conquistadors . The Americas are also the source of turkey, buffalo, corn, squash, amaranth, wild rice, avocados, pineapple, papaya, sunflowers, Jerusalem artichokes (also called sunchokes), pecans, peanuts, cashews, black walnuts, hazelnuts, tapioca, chocolate, and vanilla. After 1492, America's native foods transformed most of the world's cuisines.   While precious metals and other spoils of the Conquest bolstered a sagging European economy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the foods of the Americas have endured as the true New World legacy. What would the pomme de terre , the French "apple of the earth," be if not the American potato? As anthropologist Jack Weatherford has noted, Italians might still be eating pasta sauces derived only from carrots and beets if New World tomatoes, sweet peppers, and zucchini squash hadn't appeared. The fire in Asian and East Indian cookery would not exist if it were not for the spark of American chiles.   Some would assign origins of an American cuisine to the first settlement of Europeans in the Americas. Yet Native people, indeed entire Indian civilizations, were present when Europeans first arrived in the Western Hemisphere. One of the oldest and most continuously inhabited regions in North America is located on the border of Washington and Oregon, on the Columbia River about ninety miles east of present-day Portland. Dating as far back as 6000 b.c., a grand bazaar and trade market was located at Celilo Falls. As many as five thousand people from indigenous and diverse cultures gathered year after year to trade, feast, and participate in games and religious ceremonies.   By the time Europeans arrived, some of the Western Hemisphere's Excerpted from Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions by Fernando Divina, Marlene Divina All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.