There are cookbooks from which one simply cooks the recipes, and cookbooks like Chef Sherman’s, from which one learns how and why to cook.
Chef Sean Sherman’s The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen is the culmination of years of research, professional development, and passion. It is a springboard from which a new and exciting field of cooking is developing—under Chef Sherman’s leadership and that of a handful of other chefs. The stories of those chefs are here too, along with their recipes.
One of the book’s best features are the informative sidebars scattered throughout. They cover topics ranging from the difference between locavore and trade-a-vore, to the centrality of beans in the indigenous diet, to the noble way to hunt.
Chapters are organized to reflect where ingredients are gathered. Chapters like “Nature’s Sweets, Teas, and Refreshing Drinks” remain true to indigenous roots—working without white flour, sugar, and dairy, and relying on traditional ingredients instead.
In “(Not) Fry Bread,” Chef Sherman lays out his vision for reclaiming indigenous food, observing the difficulty of culinary symbols that connect back to painful historical narratives. He suggests updating the story and returning to the healthy traditional foods of indigenous people
… and [to] the promise that we can stand up to the foods that have destroyed our health, the forces that have compromised our culture.
This is exciting work, from a professional perspective and otherwise. It showcases food as a focal point, bringing people together.
There are cookbooks from which one simply cooks the recipes, and cookbooks from which one learns how and why to cook. Chef Sherman’s book is in the latter. It is a cookbook meant to be studied, one where the recipes are not its most important feature, but rather a part of an overall call to reclaim the history and culture of indigenous peoples, beginning with a reclamation of their traditional foods.
Chef Sherman observes that controlling food is a means of controlling power. With this cookbook, he is taking that power and giving it back to its rightful owners.
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.