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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book Review- The Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook

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

The Mitsitam Cafe offers Native foods from both North and South America, offering education about preparation methods along with meals.  This cookbook has recipes that are used in the cafe.

There are a lot of recipes in this book. If you have an interest in regional cooking, Native culture or cooking in season, this has recipes for you. The recipes all have side bars offering you a bit of information about either the inspiration for the recipe or the way the foods were eaten traditionally by different regions and nations.

One of the things that impressed me most about this book is the range of recipes, there are recipes for things like a buffalo chili that even a very conservative eater might be willing to try, or if you're more adventurous, juniper cured salmon. A lot of the recipes can be used by vegans as well. Last night I served the refried beans (made with a vegetable oil) and a roasted pepper salsa to my family for dinner. Both were enthusiastically received by my teens and husband who didn't even seem to miss having meat with dinner. My daughter was thrilled and excited by the dessert recipes. She thinks corn and chocolate tamales are just a brilliant idea. I love the Cranberry Crumble and other berry based recipes.
A good selection of salad, appetizer and main course recipes makes this a wonderful cookbook. The recipes are all well explained and easy to follow. There are some techniques like salt curing that some home cooks may not have tried yet, but the language is easy to follow.
You expect gorgeous food photos in a cookbook, and there are some delicious photos of food, there are also some great photographs of native art and people. This one gets a place of honor on my shelf of cookbooks, I have bookmarks in for the next recipes I want to try out of it. My only quibble is a minor one given how much I do like this cookbook, I wish there were more recipes from Alaska represented. However some of the ingredients used in traditional cooking up here can be extremely hard to find anywhere else.

You can find more information about the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian here.
You can get this book directly from the publisher, Fulcrum Publishing or by clicking the affiliate link below.

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