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Native American Foodways: The Gastronomical Trinity

Native American Foodways: The Gastronomical Trinity

Mohawk Corn Soup, recipe below

We are continuing a series on the global influence of Native American or Amerindians foodways (Native Americans across the American continent). Most often I would argue Eurocentric views of world history focus on European contributions to the rest of the world but my focus will be on American contributions to the world. Particular focus will on Amerindian plant cultivation, foraging, food preparation, and consumption. Native Americans in most instances survived on a gastronomical trinity that included beans, corn, and squash. These three have become center of the diet of the poor around the world because they are inexpensive and nutritious and thus some called the poor person’s meat. I will also talk about tomatoes and chocolate two Native American plants traditions that have also had a significant influence on the development of American and European cuisine. Contact with Native Americans after 1490 increased the consumption of plant foods among Europeans. The diets of Amerindians contained far more vegetables and legumes than the Europeans consumed. More often than not the first generation of Europeans who settled in the Americas came from the ranks of elites with titles but no chance of inheriting their family’s wealth.  They had little to no experience as subsistence farmers and or cooks. As result they depended on Amerindians for their survival while the two groups had limited period without armed conflict. Those first couple of months on the America meant lots of fruit and vegetable dishes and little meat. Here is related recipe below.

Mohawk Corn Soup


4 Smoke pork chops chopped [Smoked turkey drumsticks would be a great substitute or vegetarian version might include chipotle chili or chipotle in adobo, for the smokey flavor. For Vegans tempeh is a good replacement for pork]

4 large Carrots

1 Rutabaga to taste

2 Turnips to taste

1/4 Cabbage

2 Cups corn off the cob or canned Corn

1/2 lb. Chopped venison [try a portabella mushroom marinated overnight in Brags amino acid as a vegan substitute

1 Large can kidney beans or navy beans


Brown and chop meat. Chop cabbage, turnips, rutabagas and carrots to bite sizes. Pour all ingredients in soup or crock pot and cover with water. Cook slowly until vegetables are tender. Serve with corn bread

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