Indigenous Food Ways
Freddie Bitsoie & James O. Fraioli
When I got the list of books that would be forthcoming because of the amazing opportunity to be a member of the #AbramsDinnerParty this year, New Native Kitchen was the one I was anticipating the most (Filipinx is a close second, which is coming soon)! Diné Chef Freddie Bitsoie is the executive chef of the restaurant inside the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in D.C.
I chose to share this book today for several reasons. Because it’s a new release, it’s recipes are delicious, and to show how easy it can be to take the first step into responsibly celebrating gratitude. I personally don’t celebrate Thanksgiving per se, but I will cook a meal with loved ones today.
I believe that in order to be an active ally, I must set these boundaries no matter where I am, who I’m with, and what I’m doing. Having a big dinner with chosen or biological family is one of my favorite events, but not at the expense of erasing the genocidal history of the colonized lands I reside on. There is a way to celebrate gratitude everyday without the whitewashed historical narrative and paper turkeys wearing hats. We just have to try a little bit. And we need to be having conversations about the history of colonization and learning about the history of the land we reside on, including historical food ways.
Filled with recipes and history, this is the type of layout that I would love to create one day. Bitsoie has included information about various tribes all over what is now called the United States. He has taken traditional Indigenous ingredients and provides so much context for each recipe. I read it cover to cover one night because that’s just who I am as a person. I love learning about traditional ingredients and how their uses have evolved over the years, and this book taught me so much!
Let me tell you how hard I tried to track down a rabbit to make the Rabbit Stew with Corn Dumplings (p48/49), it involved multiple emails, someone’s local lamb guy, a trip to my favorite Asian grocery store in Amherst (because the owners know literally everything about the area…and I needed miso paste) and unfortunately came up nil. I didn’t have a chance to go out in the woods and procure my own, and so this is an aspirational dish.
But I did make the steamed corn pudding and the pumpkin bread! Both delicious, not too sweet, and delightful. You might notice my corn pudding looks like it’s chocolate…I think it’s because I used blackstrap molasses instead of regular? Who knows.
This book was sent by Abrams Books but all opinions and recipe leftovers are my own!
Freddie J. Bitsoie, (Diné) is the Executive Chef at the Mitsitam Café at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
Chef Bitsoie is one of a few Native American chefs at the forefront of preparing, presenting, and educating about foods indigenous to the Americas. He has been featured in America, The Cookbook, The New York Times, “Lidia Celebrates America” with Lidia Bastianich, and NPR.
Chef Bitsoie was born in Monticello, UT and raised in Arizona. He attended the University of New Mexico where he studied anthropology and art history and studied culinary arts in Scottsdale, AZ.
James O. Fraioli is a published author of twenty-five books and an award-winning filmmaker. Fraioli has traveled the globe alongside experienced guides, naturalists, and scientists, and has spent considerable time exploring and writing about the outdoors. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Seattle Aquarium and works with many environmental organizations. Learn more about his work at VesperEntertainment.com.