The Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook: Recipes from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian by Richard Hetzler

by - November 07, 2017

The Mitsitam Café Cookbook: Recipes from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian This is the kind of cookbook that you buy and put on display and proudly cook the recipes from in front of your new friends who you're trying to convince that you're cultured and sophisticated. It just looks elegant. I imagine myself cooking these recipes while watching a Great Courses DVD I rented from the library. It's okay to be that person, sometimes.

Honestly, though, this is an excellently designed cookbook, well-organized, with just enough introduction to the recipes to give you a bit of reference but without causing your eyes to glaze over. Reading it is an educational experience.

There are recipes for any kind of meal. There's a delicate and elegant "fiddlehead fern salad" that looks fancy as all get-out (see the cover image) and would most certainly impress your in-laws at a fancy luncheon, and there's a great recipe for frybread tacos that you would binge-eat with your cousins at a cookout. The section of sauces and salsas will find a lot of use for typical American eaters. (At least for me, anyway, a person who looks for excuses to cover something in hot salsa.)

Most recipes are pretty make-able; you will find an occasional where-the-heck-can-I-find-that ingredient. (Juniper berries? I don't even know where to look.)

This book also fills an important hole in collection development for libraries and collectors. I have lived in the US my entire life and have no familiarity with Native foods other than frybread and what is sold in Mexican restaurants. Everyone eats; shared culture via food is important to learn and to remember.

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