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Renewing America's Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent's Most Endangered Foods [Paperback]

By Gary Paul Nabhan (Editor), Makale Faber (Contributor) & Deborah Madison (Foreward By)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   303
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 9" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.98 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 30, 2008
Publisher   Chelsea Green Publishing
ISBN  1933392894  
EAN  9781933392899  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Renewing America's Food Traditions is a beautifully illustrated dramatic call to recognize, celebrate, and conserve the great diversity of foods that gives North America its distinctive culinary identity that reflects our multicultural heritage. It offers us rich natural and cultural histories as well as recipes and folk traditions associated with the rarest food plants and animals in North America. In doing so, it reminds us that what we choose to eat can either conserve or deplete the cornucopia of our continent.

While offering a eulogy to a once-common game food that has gone extinct--the passenger pigeon--the book doesn't dwell on tragic losses. Instead, it highlights the success stories of food recovery, habitat restoration, and market revitalization that chefs, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and foresters have recently achieved. Through such "food parables," editor Gary Paul Nabhan and his colleagues build a persuasive argument for eater-based conservation.

In addition, this book offers the first-ever list of foods at risk in America (more than a thousand), shows how all of us can personally support and participate in such recoveries, and lists food festivals held across the continent to honor and enjoy some of the country's most iconic foods, from crab cakes to maple syrup and fil gumbo. Organized by "food nations" named for the ecological and cultural keystone foods of each region--Salmon Nation, Bison Nation, Chile Pepper Nation, among others--this book offers an altogether fresh perspective on the culinary traditions of North America.

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More About Gary Paul Nabhan, Makale Faber & Deborah Madison

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DEBORAH MADISON is the author of eleven cookbooks and is well known for her simple, seasonal, vegetable-based cooking. She got her start in the San Francisco Bay Area at Chez Panisse before opening Greens, and has lived in New Mexico for the last twenty years. In addition to writing and teaching, she has served on the boards of Slow Food International Biodiversiy Committee, the Seed Savers Exchange, and the Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance, among others. She is actively involved in issues of biodiversity, gardening, and sustainable agriculture.

Deborah Madison currently resides in Santa Fe, in the state of New Mexico.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
When the European style of cooking met the plethora of ingredients native to the Americas, a new tradition was born  Jul 7, 2008
When the European style of cooking met the plethora of ingredients native to the Americas, a new tradition was born. "Renewing America's Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent's Most Endangered Foods" is a look at the forgotten foods of the American tradition and countless tips and articles about restoring these foods to prominence. Using the concept of if it's eaten, it will be remembered and recreated, "Renewing America's Food Traditions" is as educational as it is delicious. A top pick for chefs looking for something historical to cook, "Renewing America's Food Traditions" is a must for any American cookbook or history collection.
A fascinating book on food traditions that have become little known  May 17, 2008
The book's key focus is summarized on page xi, from a Foreword penned by Deborah Madison: "The Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) collaborative. . .suggests a different scenario, one in which foods that are old might well be new again; these unfamiliar products from our country's regional food traditions can be every bit as compelling as the exotic foods we import from afar." The Introduction laments the disappearance of food traditions--and with them, food sources, some of which have become extinct, others of which have become endangered.

Gary Nabhan, the volume's editor, argues that by renewing these traditions, we might be able to revise endangered or threatened species. He notes what is at stake: much of American cuisine today is close to tasteless. Think tomatoes, for example. Mass produced, bland redness of tomatoes, for instance. Nabhan notes what has happened over time. A century ago, Americans used 15,000 different varieties of apple; today, we only have 1500 varieties. We are impoverishing the supply of food sources, with convenience replacing taste and texture. The book even lays out a "mission statement" of what we should strive for (Page 13).

The organizing structure of the book is the various "food nations," regions of the country with distinct food preferences and cultures. For example, Maple Syrup Nation includes parts of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont to Indiana and Ohio. Clambake Nation runs along the coastal region from Maine to New Jersey and Delaware. As an Illinoisan, I'm interested in Cornbread Nation. Then, Bison Nation, from the Dakotas and Montana to Texas. You get the point.

But, to me, one of the most interesting parts of the book, after understanding its philosophy, is the set of recipes that typify each region. In Bison Nation, there is a recipe entitled Crow Bison Cattail Stew, featuring bison meat, water, cattail stalks (how exotic can you get!), prairie turnips, cornmeal, juniper berries, salt, and pepper. Takes some preparation, but sounds tasty (I've had bison meat, and it is pretty good, if you cook it right and don't overcook it). An accompaniment perhaps? Bison Nation Hominy and Bean Chowder; Baked Sibley Squash. From Cornbread Nation: Smoked and Braised Mulefoot Hog Shoulder with Sweet Peppers, Prosciutto, and Lacinato Kale. Some of these products are hard to get! A basic point with this recipe--mulefoot hogs, apparently, are a lot tastier to eat than the current mass produced version that stocks grocery stores. And that's a thesis of the book. The quality of our food is degraded as more tasty food sources are crowded out by more commercially efficient (but tasteless) replacements. Is the charge accurate? I don't know, but the challenge for me is to locate some mulefoot hog and see.

One nice thing about the book: it provides hints to help you track down some of the food sources (some are so rare that one cannot use them to cook at this time).

Anyhow, an interesting book, looking at what we have lost from our food heritage and how we might recover some of that. The book gets you to thinking and provides some neat recipes--although you are unlikely to be able to make them unless you track down the ingredients!

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