BRIAN OASTER High Country News
A new Native American restaurant plates a contemporary take on precolonial gastronomy.
Golden cubes of acorn squash, roasted and still in the skin, tossed with chopped pecans. A bed of greens showered with glistening strawberries, voluptuous blackberries and edible flowers so vibrant they look tropical. Wine-colored huckleberry tea. Pine nut and lavender cookies. And the centerpiece: crisped, juicy bison and blue corn meatballs, drizzled with a blueberry sauce so dark and rich you could mistake it for chocolate.
It’s precolonial. It’s decolonial. It’s decadent — and delectable — good medicine.
Is your mouth watering yet? There’s a new Native American restaurant in the West, part of a movement to reclaim — and redefine — Indigenous cuisine. In mid-November, chef Crystal Wahpepah opened Wahpepah’s Kitchen, Oakland, California’s first sit-down Native American restaurant.
“You can call it fusion, you can call it however you want to call it — but I call it our food,” she said. “I want people to feel prideful and happy and excited, just as we do when we go into another restaurant. Like, I love Thai food; I get excited. I want the same feeling when people come here.”