Cooking the Native Way
Cooking The Native Way is an invaluable documentation of Southern California native recipes and techniques, compiled by the Chia Cafe Collective’s founding members, including those from the Tongva, Cahuilla, Chumash, and Purepecha tribes.
The Tongva (or Khiz) people have been cooking and eating on the land that is now called Los Angeles for thousands of years. Their history here is many fold longer than that of any other local cuisine. Early published records of Southern California Native foods were mostly transcribed by outsiders. In contrast, several community cookbooks in the Archive contain recipes directly from tribe members.
Cooking the Native Way includes essays on food and cultural history alongside scientific and nutritional information that accompany many recipes. The book is divided into sections on different native plants, such as acorns, chia, mesquite, nopales, and yucca.
The Chia Cafe Collective began as a native seed bank called Preserving Our Heritage. In this cookbook, Tongva tribal elder and culture keeper Barbara Drake writes, “I thought, that’s what our people need to do, our California people. On their journey through life, they need to taste things from their childhood, or from their mother’s childhood, or their grandparents’ childhood.” Today, a connection to the land and to the past through food is particularly front of mind for me.
I have cooked from this book! Pictured is “Mesquite & Chia Sage Pancakes,” by Alex Sanchez