Native Spread

Now in Season Fall 2013 Issue

Native Spread

By Terese Allen | Photos By Jim Klousia 0

Louise Erdrich’s children’s novel, The Birchbark House, is filled with captivating details about seasonal Ojibwa foodways practiced on Madelaine Island in the mid-1800s. The book’s brighteyed protagonist, a little girl named Omakayas, loves autumn because that’s when her clan travels to their wild rice grounds, where there were “cousins to play with, games in the rice camps, the pleasures of talk, feasting, more talk, more visiting and feasting.”

Fall is also when her family stored food for the winter. One of my favorite passages in the book describes how Omakayas’s mother would fill a deep, bark- and grass-lined hole with a stockpile for the scarce days ahead:

Sweetness, survival, spirit and strength. Whether for fall feasting or winter storage, these are the intrinsic qualities of indigenous ingredients. We may live in modern times, but our need to savor them is timeless.

Bring some indigenous into your autumn menu with these wonderful fall recipes: 

Rabbit with Wild Mushroom Fricassee

Cranberry Beans and Bison Bacon with Grilled Polenta

Roasted Delicata Squash Rings

Maple Sugar Nut Cookies


Terese Allen has written scores of books and articles about the foodways of Wisconsin, including the award-winning titles "The Flavor of Wisconsin" and "The Flavor of Wisconsin for Kids." She is co-founder and a longtime leader of the Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin (CHEW). If you want to get Terese going, just ask her the best way to fix an old-fashioned, how to hunt for morels, or why fish fries thrive in our state.

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