Native Food! 16 Photos of Traditional Cooking, the Salish Way

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. Traditional foods can be combined with contemporary ingredients without losing their cultural value. These plantain leaf rolls are stuffed with venison or elk, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, herbs and Romano cheese for a gourmet touch. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Native Food! 16 Photos of Traditional Cooking, the Salish Way.

Looking for yummy, authentic Native recipes? Maybe you can get inspiration from Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods; Medicines from the Pacific Northwest.

For thousands and thousands of years, our Native ancestors ate healthy, wholesome foods. Salish cuisine is a prime example of that.

The Pacific Northwest is known by indigenous peoples for its natural bounty, spanning from the rich mountain forests and salmon-filled rivers to the vast abundance of seafoods provided by Mother Ocean. Such a wide nutritional variety paves the way for a cuisine that is distinctly Salish, showcased in the recently released second edition of an ebook called Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. Written by Rudolph C. Rÿser (Taidnapam Cowlitz) originally in 2004 and published by Daykeeper Press, the updated version includes new dessert recipes, expanded information about ingredients (in their Latin and Native names), and additional full color photos. The author draws on his experience growing up eating traditionally gathered and hunted foods such as deer, elk, bear, duck and beaver.

The 146-page volume features recipes for everything from appetizers to salad dressings, and main dishes to sweet treats. There is also a section for teas and juices. As a holistic project, however, it also includes sections dedicated to traditional Salish cooking knowledge, the basic Salish pantry, the importance of Oolichan oil, the cultural aspects of Salish cooking, and the dangers of modern contamination. The book wouldn’t be complete without a compendium of commonly used plants in Salish country, with details about harvesting techniques and culinary and medicinal uses.

With a forward written by Leslie Korn, Ph.d., MPH, author of Rhythms of Recovery: Trauma, Nature, and the Body and director of the Center for Traditional Medicine in Olympia, Washington, the central organizing theme of the book is restoring Native health and community through a return to traditional foods. Recognizing the connection between escalating rates of modern illnesses like diabetes and heart disease and the loss of traditional foods, the book emphasizes the destructive force of many modern ingredients. As Korn writes: “We have tried to maintain the integrity of each dish by using foods that do not raise the glycemic level or use gluten-based products, both sugar and gluten being harmful to most indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere (as well as peoples from other parts of the world including Europe).”

Food gathering and preparation is a central aspect of traditional knowledge, as Rÿser writes. For example, being in the right frame of mind is imperative for the life-giving force of traditional foods to ensure that food is infused with happiness and calmness. Cooking methods further contribute to the health-imparting benefits of traditional foods. Microwave ovens and high temperature cooking, for instance, should be avoided in favor of slower, lower temperature cooking to protect food’s nutritional integrity.

Adapting traditional foods in a contemporary context is also a creative process and is reflected in the recipes offered in the book. You won’t find fry bread here, but you will find healthy ingredients such as stevia and berry juices (instead of refined sugar), rice or cattail flour (instead of processed white flour), and coconut or olive oil (instead of conventional vegetable oils).

Salish Country Cookbook can be purchased for $9.99 through the Center for Traditional Medicine at www.centerfortraditionalmedicine.org.

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. The most beloved food of Pacific Northwest peoples is salmon, shown here baked with wild celery, onion and skunk cabbage. Like many Pacific Northwest foods, skunk cabbage can be eaten many ways and is often used as medicine, including for wound treatment, as a bladder and blood cleanser, to ease childbirth, and as a mild sedative. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. This delectable potpourri showcases some of the most important of Salish foods. From left to right: Smoked oolichan, oolichan oil in upper left cup, poached salmon with crushed juniper berries, wild onion and wild celery, clams and in cup and to the right we have cured salmon eggs, all resting on a cedar bow. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. Indian caviar: this recipe for Oolichan Wind Salmon Appetizer combines salmon roe on a bed of dried salmon with wakame seaweed. Oolichan is a powerful medicine for burns and other skin problems in addition to being a tasty and nutritious condiment. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. Food as medicine: stinging nettles can be drunk as tea or eaten cooked with other foods for its high vitamin and mineral content. Known by indigenous peoples all over Turtle Island, the Chelahis people know it as Qwunqwu’n, meaning “it stings you.” (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. Cattail is not only prized for basket- and mat-making, but many parts of it are edible including the roots, young shoots, stalks and even the pollen which is rich in amino acids and protein. A good source of carbohydrates, traditionally the roots and stalks of the cattail are prepared by baking in ashes. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. Traditional foods can be combined with contemporary ingredients without losing their cultural value. These plantain leaf rolls are stuffed with venison or elk, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, herbs and Romano cheese for a gourmet touch. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. Real Indians eat quiche! In another example of a traditional food adapted in a modern context, this dandelion quiche is a vegetarian’s delight. Dandelions arrived on the North American continent with Europeans but were recognized by Native peoples for their medicinal and nutritional value. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. Salal berries, also known as bear berries, are a staple food for Pacific Northwest peoples. The leaves can be made into tea for coughs, tuberculosis, diarrhea and bladder inflammation, while the berries can be eaten fresh or cooked. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. Quamash (also known as camas to Plateau peoples) is one of the most important foods in the Pacific Northwest diet. Rich in carbohydrates and fiber, the bulbs can be prepared in a variety of ways and is used as a sweetener. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. A food prized by Native peoples all over Turtle Island, chokecherry is one of the main ingredients in Pemmican. Salish people make it into juice, dry it, bake with it, or eat it with fish. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. Anyone from the Pacific Northwest understands the joy of huckleberries, which are high in antioxidants and have anti-aging properties. Salish Country Cookbook shows it here baked into a crisp with a hazelnut and maple sugar topping. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. Like Salish peoples, hazelnuts are indigenous to North America. This recipe for healthy hazelnut muffins calls for cassava, tapioca or potato flour, salal berries, blackberries or black cap raspberries, and agave for sweetening. Besides a food source, the hazelnut bush had many other uses for Salish people including arrow making and as a green dye. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. In addition to salmon, venison is a staple protein for Salish people. This recipe calls for juniper berries and the meat is roasted on the grill over a fire of alderwood. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. Soups and stews are irreplaceable on cold Northwest winter nights. This elk meat stew is thickened with cattail flour (or brown rice flour) and arrowroot. It also combines quamash roots (if available), wild or conventional carrots, onions, and is seasoned with juniper berries, sage, rosemary and thyme. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. Quinault people call wild cranberries “asolmix” (prairie berries). Also known as Bog cranberries, they can be eaten fresh, cooked, or dried. Shown here as a salad dressing, it can also be incorporated as a tantalizing marinade for venison, elk or rabbit meat. (Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest)

Salish Country Cookbook: Traditional Foods & Medicines from the Pacific Northwest. The author of Salish Country Cookbook, Rudolph Rÿser, processing salmon roe. Salmon roe is higher in essential fatty acids than the fish itself, and is high in vitamins D and K.

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