Can we eat our way to wisdom? With our minds overwhelmed by news and images, can we best be reached through our stomachs? Can we pull off an event that’s literally food for thought? Give us a thousand bucks, and let’s find out.
I’m requesting this money to assist my friend, Vincent Medina, an Ohlone activist, with a truly awesome project: creating a new way of being Indian in the modern world. Gleefully thumbing his nose at every cultural cliché, Vincent and his partner, Louis Trevino, also Ohlone, will prepare a banquet featuring traditional California Indian ingredients assembled in a modern kitchen using the most refined European culinary techniques. The result is pure delight: acorn bisque served with local wildflower honey and walnut milk; acorn flour tempura sage leaves served with bay oil aioli; venison meatballs with crushed yerba buena; sautéed dandelion greens with savory hazelnut butter; acorn flour brownies with walnuts and sea salt; and yerba buena and bay laurel sorbet.
This is a menu that demands to be read aloud. Celebratory and bold, it leaps tall buildings in a single bound. Traditional foods, gathered and stored with reverence and techniques rooted in ancient practices, get dressed in fancy clothes and head out for a wild night on the town. It brings to mind the time when the Indians of the Great Plains seized upon the horse, quickly mastering this introduced animal and using it in ways that revitalized, extended, and transformed ancient cultural practice.
Vincent and Louis have quit their day jobs to launch mak-‘amham, offering catering services to Native organizations and others. The funding will be used for a banquet to which I will invite Class-A Bay Area foodies, prominent members of the Native community, foundation heads and educators, museum curators, and the media. Let’s give Vince the chance to play with his food, play with our minds, and expand the sense of what it means to be Indian today.
Funded by San Francisco, CA (December 2017)