Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 4   April  2011

Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
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"Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions" was written by Fernando and Marlene Divine and the National Museum of the American Indian. Originally published in 2004, the cookbook won much acclaim, including a James Beard Award

Food of the Americas contains 140 modern recipes from tribes all over the Americas. The Divinas traveled to villages and reservations from the top of North America to the bottom of South America. They tasted foods and collected recipes which include Great Basin-Style Braised Rabbit, Acorn Bread and Buckskin Cakes, and Maple Syrup Pie.

The couple -- Fernando is a chef and Marlene is a Chippewa writer -- worked with Smithsonian's NMAI on its Mitsitam Cafe.

In 2008, the Divinas opened a restaurant  in Oregon called Terrace Kitchen.

Food of the Americas is now available in paperback and includes pictures of the recipes along with other photos from the NMAI.



In Northern Mexico, beef has become a big part of the local diet. Deshebrad is served in many ways --  fillings for enchiladas, tacos, burritos, tamales, omelets, and as a topping for Fry Bread.

There are many versions of Deshebrad. Families might have their own traditional recipes; others may simply use  ingredients at hand. Chicken and pork may also be substituted for the beef.



1 pound beef chuck or brisket, trimmed and cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces
 1/2 small white onion, coarsely chopped
 2 cloves garlic
 1 bay leaf
 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
 About 2 cups water or brown stock
 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano or marjoram
 1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
 1 1/4 teaspoons sweet paprika
 1 cup Fresh Mexican Tomato Salsa (recipe below)

1. Place the meat in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt and enough stock to cover.
2.  Bring to a boil and then decrease the heat to medium-low. Simmer, skimming often, for about 45 minutes, until the meat is fork-tender.
3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a bowl. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve or colander and reserve.
4. When cool enough to handle, shred the beef with a fork, discarding any pieces of fat or connective tissue.
5 .Combine the pepper, oregano, basil and paprika in a dry heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 to 7 minutes, until toasted.
6 Add the shredded beef and salsa and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, stirring the meat with a fork to shred any remaining chunks. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the mixture comes to a rolling boil.
7. Taste and adjust the seasoning with a pinch of salt if necessary. If the mixture appears dry, add some of the reserved stock to moisten.
8. Serve immediately.

Fresh Mexican Tomato Salsa
Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

2 ripe tomatoes, cored and finely chopped (about 2 cups)
1/2 small white onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 bunch cilantro, stemmed and coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 serrano chile, minced
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon corn oil

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. For best results, prepare just before serving.


-- "Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions" by Fernando and Marlene Divina (Ten Speed with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, 2011, $28)

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