“Think about this: The Italians didn’t have the tomato until after 1492,” writes chef and food historian Lois Ellen Frank. “The Irish didn’t have the potato.” Let that sink in, then get a copy of Frank’s Seed to Plate, Soil to Sky: Modern Plant-Based Recipes Using Native American Ingredients. Written with Walter Whitewater, the book celebrates the “magic eight” indigenous plants of the Americas—corn, beans, squash, chiles, tomatoes, potatoes, vanilla and cacao. The recipes are accessible, budget-friendly and entirely plant-based, such as the three sisters tamale with green chile, black beans, chocolate and chipotle; baked acorn squash with maple and pecans; and green chile enchilada lasagne. In sum, this is a fantastic introduction and tribute to Native American Southwestern cuisine.
In 2014, food historians Victoria Flexner and Jay Reifel cooked up an NYC supper club called Edible History, a perfect pairing of fine dining and intellectual stimulation. Now they’ve spun the concept into A History of the World in 10 Dinners: 2,000 Years, 100 Recipes, which includes recipes for such dishes as Trimalchio’s pig (a roasted suckling pig with sausages) from ancient Rome, and glazed whore’s farts (meringues) from Versailles. “This book will present even the experienced cook with a shocking variety of unfamiliar ingredients,” Reifel writes. “We have missed out on so many perspectives,” writes Flexner. “How do we learn about people who left nothing behind?” Their book is one intriguing answer, and I savor the thought of reading it to my teenage daughter as she makes her way through AP World History.