Check It Out: Book has comfort food covered



As fall approaches, I start thinking about food. OK, I think about food throughout the year (much to my dismay), but when the leaves start turning yellow and the morning air takes on a bit of a chill, I begin craving soups, stews, and all of the warm, yummy comfort food I associate with fall and winter.

Knowing that my appetite will experience a seasonal shift, I tend to gravitate toward cookbooks with “soup” or “casserole” in the title. So how did “The Mitsitam Café Cookbook” come to my attention? I’ll call it serendipity. I have an interest in Native American art and history, so one afternoon at home I sat down with my laptop and conducted an online tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian located in Washington, D.C . Perhaps it was the cool air coming through the window in the kitchen, or the smell of beef vegetable soup simmering on the stove, but my focus soon turned away from Native American artifacts to maple-brined turkey, pumpkin soup, and persimmon cake, all menu items at the museum’s restaurant, the Mitsitam Cafe.

According to the café’s website, “mitsitam” means “let’s eat!” in the native language of the Delaware and Piscataway peoples. Serving indigenous food from the Americas, Mitsitam Café features dishes from five regions: Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Meso America, and the Great Plains.

Traveling to Washington, D.C. to sample Mitsitam Café’s menu would have been a fun but expensive journey. Imagine my delight then when I discovered that a Mitsitam cookbook was available, and even better, that the library owns several copies. To have the option of creating the same dishes in my very own kitchen without depleting the savings account — priceless.

If you’re a self-assured home chef, dazzle your family and friends with juniper-cured salmon sandwiches, smoked pork and quinoa soup, herb-roasted duck legs with raspberry glaze, and corn and chocolate tamales. Less adventurous cooks — like yours truly — can get in the Mitsitam mood by whipping up guacamole, green chile rice, and salsa fresca. And if you’re in the same comfort food state of mind that I am, try the butternut squash soup, roasted venison, or hazelnut and honey-roasted acorn squash. Yum!

Jan Johnston is the collection development coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at