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Chimi Nu'am: Native California Foodways for the Contemporary Kitchen

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by Sara Calvosa Olson
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Fresh attention to indigenous North American ingredients, cooking practices, and foodways from chefs such as Sean Sherman (The Sioux Chef) has created a ripple effect in which other Native cooks explore both traditional dishes as well as the interplay between cultures.

Sara Calvosa Olson’s maternal ancestry is from the Karuk tribe whose lands are part of northwest California; her father’s descent is Italian and German. She uses a traditional, seasonal organization for her recipes, drawing inspiration not only from historical Karuk foods but also from those of other tribes.

Some of her dishes use local foods but borrow techniques from other cultures. For instance, in a stew that is traditionally thickened with ground acorns, she uses acorn flour to coat the meat before browning it. But in other cases she modifies non-indigenous recipes to use ingredients that would have been part of tribal cooking prior to European contact, such as a paella made with Dungeness crab and venison brined in coffee.

Olson’s voice is personal and informative, explaining mid-recipe why you should avoid mixing too much as well as why the serendipity of some of her discoveries has inspired her to keep exploring.

Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.

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