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Food: Where People Feast: An Indigenous People’s Cookbook

[ 0 ] August 1, 2010 |

First off, I must disclose my biases. Dolly and Annie Watts are my relatives. And I used to publish books with Arsenal Pulp Press under the imprint of Tillacum Library. Nevertheless, Where People Feast: An Indigenous People’s Cookbook is worth informing you about. It is the best First Nations cookbook published to date.

Where People Feast received well-deserved accolades and publicity. Dolly and her daughter, Annie, were gracious about the praise for their cookbook, but they were accustomed to such honours. They successfully operated Liliget Feast House, on Davie Street in Vancouver, and Dolly won an Iron Chef competition in 2004. Yes, she can cook.

Dolly also operated a catering company called Just Like Grandma’s Bannock, and bannock is one of the delectable highlights of her cookbook. It was famous at her restaurant. Dolly once told me that she and Annie quit counting the portions of bannock they had served when they hit about 700,000. That’s a lot of bannock. Served with a wild berry jam, it’s to die for! The Liliget Feast House is now closed so, unfortunately, we can no longer enjoy Dolly and Annie’s cuisine served in the elegant atmosphere designed by Arthur Erickson, the world-famous architect. But the recipes in Where People Feast are much like the food served at the restaurant.

FACE promotes food security, and this includes the 100-Mile Diet. Dolly and Annie make it clear that Native people of this continent practised this diet for centuries. The recipes are nutritious without needing to go into the details of vitamins, minerals, cholesterol, fat, protein and all those other scientific contents. Aboriginal people of this land were healthy because their food was healthy and bountiful. Not only that, the food was delicious.

Just the names of the recipes in this book will whet your appetite and convince you to check your cupboards for ingredients so you can get right down to preparing one or two of them: venison roast with juniper berry rub, huckleberry glazed duck, and clam chowder. And you might think smoked salmon mousse, Indian tacos, blackberry-glazed beets and wild rice pancakes sound unusual, but they are guaranteed to treat your taste buds.

Wild Blueberry Cobbler

The wild berries in this recipe have a sweet, slightly tart flavor. Serve warm with vanilla
ice cream and caramel sauce.
¾ cup buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ cup butter
¾ cup white sugar
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (¼ oz/7 g each)
¼ cup boiling water
5 cups wild blueberries
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). In a bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, flour, 3 tbsp sugar,
baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix well. Cut in butter and set aside. In
another bowl, combine ¾ cup sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and gelatin, and mix, then set
aside. In a saucepan on high heat, combine water and 2½ cups of the blueberries and
bring to a boil. Add gelatin mixture, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 7 minutes,
stirring continually. Remove from heat, then add remainder of berries. Spread mixture
into an 8x8x2-in (20x20x5-cm) baking dish. Spoon dough evenly on top of berries.
Bake for 25 minutes uncovered, or until golden brown, then cover with a lid or tinfoil
and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely,
then refrigerate for 3 hours to allow berries to set.

Makes 10 servings.

To purchase a copy of Dolly and Annie’s cookbook, and to read more about Where People Feast and the restaurant, visit their website,

Category: Food

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