Thursday, August 28, 2008

Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations; by Lois Ellen Frank

We had an opportunity a week ago to hear a talk by a remarkable woman at our local library here in Eldorado. I was just out of the hospital, but I wanted to hear this speaker so much that we took the chance and went, and I am SO GLAD .. It was a wonderful evening.

Lois Ellen Frank is a resident here in Eldorado. She is part Navajo Indian, a cultural anthropologist, photographer, author of the award-winning cookbook, Food of the Southwest Indian Nations: Traditional and Contemporary Native American Recipes, and proprietor of Red Mesa Catering, as well as a gardener and herbalist. She currently also teaches here in Santa Fe. And she is the photographer of many of those posters of chile, sunflowers, corn, etc. that some of us are familiar with. And she certainly lived up to her reputation!

Her talk was mostly about her background, her cookbook, and her work in researching and promoting a return to a healthy and traditional Navajo diet based on a culture of corn, chile, beans and squash, as well as piñon seeds, juniper berries, prickly pear cactus, healthy churro sheep, etc. She also spoke at length about the damage to the health and diets of Native Americans from unhealthy foods introduced by our government into the cultures of native peoples.

As a diabetic, I heard some really exciting information, such as the natural sugar-reducers in the membranes of prickly pear cactus and the potential for improvement of Type 2 diabetes in the general population.

As an added bonus, Ms Frank brought some samples of her recipes, such as cactus jelly, a prickly pear dessert, and pumpkin-piñon cookies. All delicious! I have not purchased a copy of Ms Frank’s cookbook yet, but I plan on doing so soon. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning more about the healthy native foods of the southwest part of this country. We left realizing how fortunate we are to have such a treasure living here in Eldorado!

(Photo from Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta 2002: Lois Frank and her partners Walter Whitewater and Sam Etheridge)


Buck said...

That cover is more than enough to sell me on the book. I'm such a sucker... spelled d-e-v-o-t-e-e ... for chiles it's not funny. Or maybe it is, I dunno. ;-)

Lois Frank sounds like a woman I'd like to hear speak.

Towanda said...

Probably one of my top three reasons for wanting to live in New Mexico was the green chile and the rest of the fantastic New Mexico cuisine!!!

Laurel said...

Your mention of Prickly Pear Cactus reminded me of a trip to Las Vegas where I tried Dried Prickly Pear and Prickly Pear Jam for the first time. I LOVED them.