(click above to play)
Song “Tsidii-Bird”, composed by Geraldine Barney and from the album, “Music of New Mexico – Native American Traditions”
Living in the American Southwest as I have for the past 19 years, I am continuously surrounded by the Native American culture, which is steeped in the history of the Southwest, and nowhere is this more evident than in New Mexico.
Native American cookbooks are out there, but they are few and far between. I have located several, and a recent purchase was “Pueblo Indian Cookbook”, compiled and edited by Phyllis Hughes, and published by the Museum of New Mexico Press, last revised in 1977.
There are 19 pueblos in New Mexico, and many share similar foods and recipes among them. In addition to corn, chile and many other vegetables, pumpkin features in most foods of the Pueblos. Below, again, just in time for fall, is a recipe for “Pumpkin Candy” from “Pueblo Indian Cookbook”, by Ms. Hughes:
1 five pound pumpkin
5 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
Peel and seed pumpkin, cut in 2″ x 4″ strips. Stir baking soda into enough water to cover strips and let stand 12 hours then drain and wash strips in running water. Drop pumpkin into pot of boiling water and cook until tender but not soft. Remove and crisp in ice cold water and drain. Mix sugar with one cup water and boil 10 minutes. Add pumpkin and simmer in covered pot until syrup is thick and strips are brittle. Spread strips to dry. May be stored when cold.
As Priscilla Vigil from Tesuque Pueblo, notes in the introduction to the cookbook, “Our thanks to Mother Nature for all the good food we get from our fields and the wild places”.