News / USA

Museum Serves Up Native American-Inspired Feast

American Indian Museum puts a modern twist on tradition foods

The sampler plate at the American Indian museum contains grilled bison and salmon,  roasted butternut squash, wild rice salad, and Peruvian lima bean salad.
The sampler plate at the American Indian museum contains grilled bison and salmon, roasted butternut squash, wild rice salad, and Peruvian lima bean salad.

Multimedia

Audio
Susan Logue

This Thursday, most Americans will gather with loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving, an annual holiday inspired by a harvest feast held in 1621 in Massachusetts when English colonists and members of the Wampanoag tribe reportedly celebrated for three days.

Americans in search of inspiration for their holiday meal might want to visit the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., to see what’s on the menu at its cafeteria.

Turkey with cranberry sauce is a traditional entree on Thanksgiving, and it is one of the more popular offerings at the appropriately named Mitsitam Café. The name comes from the Delaware Piscataway word for “let’s eat.”

Diners can choose from 75 to 100 different items inspired by Native cultures from across the Western Hemisphere. Like salmon from the Pacific Northwest coast, wild rice and watercress salad from the northern woodlands, and cornmeal masa cakes from Mesoamerica.

The ingredients are traditional, but the dishes have a contemporary spin. “We don’t represent it in a way Native Americans would have eaten it pre-contact or even post contact with the settlers or the Europeans,” executive chef Richard Hetzler says.

Visitors to the museum want food that tastes good, Hetzler says, but Native Americans in the past were more concerned with survival. “Their cornbreads were very dry and dense, because they needed something that wouldn’t mold, something that would last.”

Lobster bread pudding probably wasn’t served at the first Thanksgiving, but it’s on the Mitsitam Café's holiday take-home menu.
Lobster bread pudding probably wasn’t served at the first Thanksgiving, but it’s on the Mitsitam Café's holiday take-home menu.

That would be a hard sell to tourists, but masa cakes topped with vegetables and chipotle cheese sauce are not.

As for the traditional Thanksgiving foods, Hetzler says turkey probably would have been served at that historic feast in 1621. “Because it was abundant and plentiful. Venison would have probably been on the menu. Would they have done a lobster bread pudding or a wild rice salad? I don’t know.”

Those foods are on Mitsitam’s holiday take-home menu, along with pumpkin soup and wild mushrooms cooked with corn meal.  Thanksgiving is the one time of year the restaurant offers catering.

Although most of the food preparation is done one level below the cafeteria, bison and salmon get grilled over an open fire where customers can watch.
Although most of the food preparation is done one level below the cafeteria, bison and salmon get grilled over an open fire where customers can watch.

The rest of the year, Mitsitam Café is strictly an eat-in establishment. Prices are more than you’d pay at other cafeterias, but as one customer pointed out, “It is like a good restaurant, which I don’t think people expect when they go to a museum.”

Inside a museum or not, there are foods here, you won’t find at any other Washington restaurant. Even the hamburgers have a unique native flavor. They're made with buffalo, not beef. You can also get a gourmet burger made with fresh-ground buffalo and duck meat.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid