People, Plants, and Culinary Traditions

Deborah M. Pearsall

in The Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195380118
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 People, Plants, and Culinary Traditions

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Culinary traditions of Native North Americans at European Contact were diverse, from salmon fishers of the Northwest and root diggers of the Great Basin to maize (corn) agriculturalists of the Eastern Woodlands. The story of people, plants, and culinary traditions is informed by the practices of descendant populations (ethnobotanical observations) and through the study of archaeological plant remains (paleoethnobotany). This article begins with Western culinary traditions not based on field agriculture, and then looks at traditions in which people relied on maize, beans, and squash, crops that in some cases were accepted by populations already growing native domesticates. There is no strict dichotomy of agriculturally–nonagriculturally based cuisine, but rather a range of people–plant interrelationships in diverse environmental settings, with many commonalities across the continent and through time in plants and plant parts used, processing and cooking techniques, and cultivation and management practices employed.

Keywords: Western culinary traditions; field agriculture; people–plant interrelationships; commonalities; cooking techniques; management practices

Article.  5021 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology of North America

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