Native American Cuisine
includes all food practices of the native peoples of the Americas. Information about Native American cuisine comes from a great variety of sources. Modern day native peoples retain a rich body of traditional foods, some of which have become iconic of present-day Native American social gatherings (for example, frybread). Foods like cornbread, turkey, cranberry, blueberry, hominy, grits and mush are known to have been adopted into the cuisine of the United States from Native American groups. In other cases, documents from the early periods of contact with European, African, and Asian peoples allow the recovery of food practices which passed out of popularity in the historic period (for example, Black Drink). Archaeological techniques, particularly in the subdisciplines of zooarchaeology and paleoethnobotany, have allowed for the understanding of other culinary practices or preferred foods which did not survive into the written historic record.
Modern day Native American Cuisine can cover as wide of range as the imagination of the chef that adopts this cuisine to present. The use of indigenous domesticated and wild food ingredients can represent Native American food and cuisine. North American Native Cuisine can differ somewhat from Southwestern and Mexican Cuisine in its simplicity and directness of flavor. The use of ramps, wild ginger, miners lettuce, juniper can impart a subtle flavour to the dish. Native American food is not a historic subject but one of living flavours and ideas. A chef preparing a Native American dish can adopt, create, alter as his imagination dictates.
Native American cuisine of the United States The native cuisine of the Native Americans of the United States:
American Indians of the Eastern Woodlands planted what was known as the "Three Sisters": corn, beans, and squash. In addition, a number of other domesticated crops were popular during some time periods in the Eastern Woodlands, including a local version of quinoa, a variety of amaranth, sumpweed/marsh elder, little barley, maygrass, and sunflower.
Corn bread Fry bread is a dish made from ingredients distributed to Native Americans living on reservations. Succotash, a trio of lima beans, tomatoes and corn Pemmican, a concentrated food consisting of dried pulverized meat, dried berries, and rendered fat Bird brain stew, from the Cree tribe  Buffalo stew, from the Cherokee Nation also called Tanka-me-a-lo  Acorn mush, from the Miwok people  Wojape dry meats Jerky piki bread green chili stew mutton stew Navajo pueblo bread
Native American cuisine of Mesoamerica
Main articles: Aztec cuisine and Maya diet and subsistence The pre-conquest cuisine of the Native Americans of Mesoamerica made a major contribution to shaping modern-day Mexican cuisine. The cultures involved included the Aztec, Maya, Olmec, and many more (see the List of pre-Columbian civilizations).
Some known dishesTacos Tamales Tlacoyos (gordita) Pozole Mole Mezcal Tortillas Champurrado, a chocolate drink  Pejelagarto, a fish with an alligator-like head seasoned with the amashito chile and lime  Pulque Chili
Native American cuisine of South AmericaThis currently includes recipes known from the Inca and Nazca of Peru.
Grilled guinea pig, a native to most of the Andes region this small rodent has been culivated for at least 4000 years Fried green tomatoes, a nightshade relative native to Peru Saraiaka or Chicha, a corn liquor  Quinoa Porridge Ch'arki, a type of dried meat Humitas, similar to modern-day Tamales, a thick mixture of corn, herbs and onion, cooked in a corn-leaf wrapping. The name is modern, meaning bow-tie, because of the shape in which it's wrapped.
Crops and ingredientsMaize, beans and squash were known as the three sisters for their symbiotic relationship when grown together by the North American and Meso-American natives. If the South Americans had similar methods of what is known as companion planting it is lost to us today.
Desert Kitchen: Edible wild and/or cultivated plants and their crops from the North American deserts, such as Honey Mesquite beans, mesquite meal, a devil's claw unicorn, cholla cactus buds, Saguaro cactus seeds, tapestry beans, acorns etc.Maize Throughout the Americas, probably domesticated in or near Mexico. Beans Throughout the Americas. Squash Throughout the Americas. Sweet potato South American Potato South American Tomato Kiwacha Maca Coca South and Central America. quinoa South America, Central America, and Eastern North America. amaranth tobacco cassava Primarily South America. chile peppers bell peppers sunflowers rice acorn Used to make flour. pineapple South America ramps Wild onion peanut maple syrup wild honey pecans, white walnuts, hickory nuts blueberry cranberry mesquite flour/meal avocado vanilla cholla cactus buds Saguaro cactus fruits and seeds devil's claw unicorns
The word salsa is the Spanish word for sauce. The salsas many of us think of are salsa frescas or salsa cruda, fresh sauces served as a condiment aside a Mexican meal. These uncooked sauces might be pureed until smooth, semi-chunky, or the uniformly chopped pico de gallo.
Hunted or livestockDeer Antelope Elk Moose Bison Originally found throughout most of North America. Rabbit Bear Horse Although imported by Europeans, the horse was still very important to Native American cultures throughout the Americas (although famously on the North American Plains) in the historic era. Sheep Another important European import. Cattle Another important European import. Hog Another important European import. Squirrel Opossum Guinea pig Domesticated in the Andes. Llama Domesticated in the Andes. Guanaco Hunted in South America by hunter-gatherer societies, for ex. in Patagonia until the 19th century. Turkey Sloth Woolly mammoth, extinct Passenger Pigeon. extinct History of Salsa
The Chile - Tomato Combo The making of a sauce by combining chiles, tomatoes and other ingredients like squash seeds and even beans has been documented back to the Aztec culture.
We have Spanish-born Bernadino de Sahagun to thank for the detailed culinary history of the Aztec culture. His extensive writings documented every food common to the culture. This is an excerpt from Sahagun's writings about the food vendors in the large Aztec markets: "He sells foods, sauces, hot sauces, fried [food], olla-cooked, juices, sauces of juices, shredded [food] with chile, with squash seeds, with tomatoes, with smoke chile, with hot chile, with yellow chile, with mild red chile sauce, yellow chile sauce, sauce of smoked chile, heated sauce, he sells toasted beans, cooked beans, mushroom sauce, sauce of small squash, sauce of large tomatoes, sauce of ordinary tomatoes, sauce of various kinds of sour herbs, avocado sauce".
The paragraph above refers to many of the ingredients in our modern-day salsas.
Ordinary tomatoes - most likely this reference is to the tomatillo or tomate verde.Smoked chiles - The chipotle or smoked jalapeno was a staple in the Aztec diet.Avocado - cultivated by the Aztecs the avocado was an important source of fat and protein and was used in a sauce similar to what we call guacamole.
Mexican cuisineMexican food is a style of food that originated in Mexico with a good measure of Spanish influence. It also contains the influence of the French cuisine that dates to the colonial times as well as Italian influence in the form of various cheeses.Mexican cuisine is known for its intense and varied flavors, colorful decoration, and the variety of spices that it has. Mexican gastronomy, in terms of diversity of appealing tastes and textures, is one of the richest in the world in proteins, vitamins, and minerals, though some people characterize it as excessively spicy.When Spanish conquistadores arrived in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan (on the ruins of which Mexico City was built), they found that the common people's diet consisted largely of corn-based dishes with chilis and herbs, usually complemented with beans and squash. Later on, the conquistadores added to their original diet of rice, beef, pork, chicken, wine, garlic, and onions that they brought with them from Spain to the indigenous foods of pre-Columbian Mexico (including chocolate, maize, tomato, vanilla, avocado, papaya, pineapple, chile pepper, beans, squash, sweet potato, peanut and turkey). The totopo (cooked in a fire oven corn tortilla) may have been created as part of this cuisine.Most of today's Mexican cuisine is based on pre-hispanic traditions, including the Aztecs and Maya, combined with culinary trends introduced by Spanish colonists. Quesadillas, for example, are a flour or corn tortilla with cheese (often a Mexican-style Mozzarella called quezo casero or Oaxaca), beef, chicken, pork, and so on. The indigenous part of this and many other traditional foods is the chile pepper and the corn. Foods like these tend to be very colorful because of the rich variety of vegetables (among them are the tomotatoes, chili peppers, green peppers, chiles, broccoli, cauliflower, avocadoes and radishes) and meats in Mexican food. There is also a sprinkling of Caribbean influence in Mexican cuisine, particularly in some regional dishes from the states of Veracruz and Yucatan. The French occupation of Mexico also yielded some influences as well: the bolillo (pronounced bo-lee-yo, with the "o" as in "bore"), a Mexican take on the French roll, certainly seems to reflect this.
Mexican food varies by region, because of local climate and geography and ethnic differences among the people and because these different populations were influenced by the Spaniards and other settlers in varying degrees. The north of Mexico is known for its beef production and meat dishes; southeastern Mexico, on the other hand, is known for its spicy vegetable and chicken-based dishes. Veracruz-style is a common method of preparing seafood.
There are also more exotic dishes, cooked in the Aztec or Maya style, with ingredients ranging from iguana to rattlesnake, deer, spider monkey, and even some kinds of insects. This is usually known as comida prehispanica (or prehispanic food), and although not very common, is relatively well known.
A distinction must be made between truly authentic Mexican food, and the Cal-Mex (Californian-Mexican) and "Tex Mex" (Texan-Mexican) cuisine. Mexican cuisine combines with the cuisine of the southwest United States (which itself has a number of Mexican influences) to form Cal-Mex and Tex-Mex cuisine. Another style of cuisine that is commonly mistaken for Mexican food is New Mexican cuisine, which can be found in, of course, New Mexico, USA.
There is also no single Hispanic cuisine. Traditional Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Spanish, Argentine, and Peruvian cooking, for example, all vary greatly from each other, and take on new forms in the United States. While Mexican cuisine is the most familiar variety of "Hispanic food" in most of the United States, it is not representative of the cuisine of most other Hispanic peoples.
In some regions, the cuisine of Mexico can be heavily dependent on staples such as maize, beans, chile peppers and is greatly indebted to the cuisine and diet of the Aztec and Maya. In other regions the cuisine resembles that of other Hispanic countries like Cuba and Puerto Rico. On the other hand, may be dependent on starchy root vegetables, plantain and rice and is influenced by the flavors of Spain, Africa and China. The cuisine of Spain often mirrors the cuisines of its Mediterranean neighbors, and in addition to the abundance of olives, olive oil, tomatoes, seafood and meats, other foreign influences, such as the use of saffron, were introduced during the spice trade. Meanwhile, Argentina relies almost exclusively on red meats, consuming almost everything derived from beef, and is heavily influenced by Italian cuisine. In Peruvian cuisine guinea pigs are popular as a source of meat (derived from the diet of the Inca) and staples indigenous to the region, such as maize and the myriad of potato varieties, are the most utilized there. Rice also plays an important role in Peruvian cuisine.
This diversity in staples and cuisine is also evident in the differing regional cuisines within the national borders of the individual countries. Most groceries in heavily Hispanic areas carry a wide array of specialty Latin American products, in addition to the widely available brands of tortillas and Mexican style salsa.