Friday, November 30, 2007

The Best Museum Food I Ever Had

photo by bcmom

The year the American Indian Museum opened on the Mall in Washington, D.C., I missed the inaugural pow wow because I was teaching. Then I took students to Washington in December for a leadership conference. Again I missed the museum trip because of scheduling issues and because I was the only one really interested in going. A few weeks later, we traveled to the DC area to visit my parents. Then I finally got to go to the museum.

As we wandered through four floors of culturally appropriate architecture, artworks that we had only seen in books and small traveling cart displays that allowed you to hold replicas of our ancestors' material culture, the hunger struck. It was cold outside and we had been travelling, so I was terribly hungry. Typically I pass on museum food, because it is overpriced and not necessarily that good. But my mother was buying. She had heard that they had some interesting dishes there. The theme in this restaurant is foods native to the American continents. The menu featured things as diverse as buffalo and elk burgers to tortillas to local freshwater fish. Then I saw it - turkey with cranberries and squash, I think. I believe there was also corn involved but I don't exactly remember. The cranberries stand out.

I have long been a fan of cranberries. I'm not big on sweet drinks and I find the tartness of the cranberry quite refreshing. When I worked at a bar, I used to mix my own non-alcoholic beverage featuring a glass filled with ice, cranberry juice and a splash of lemix. Better than water on a busy night, though much more expensive.

Related Reading

I checked out Wikipedia for nutritional information and here is a summary of what I found out. Cranberries contain plenty of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthum. The most common native food storage method before refrigeration, was drying. Cranberries can be stored easily in the winter because of the cold temperatures and they can be dried in the sun. Once cranberries are dried, they could be mixed with dry meat and suet or bear fat and nuts to create pemmican - high energy road food. Talk about nutrition. Something like that would ward off rickets in the winter and many other vitamin deficiencies that were common prior to the 20th century.

Potassium helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balances in the body. Diets high in potassium can ward off hypertension. Vitamin C can ward off colds and help maintain energy and overall good health. A lack of vitamin A can lead to a variety of defects in vision, including night blindness and corneal drying. Lutein and zeaxanthum are important for warding off diseases like macular degeneration. Lack of these two nutrients also leads to pale dry skin.

Oh yeah, back to the museum restaurant. Let me say that the turkey dinner was fabulous. The best I've ever had. I talked about how good it was for at least a year. If you ever get to Washington, D.C. visit the Museum of the American Indian and try out the delicious food in their restaurant.
Feel free to comment by clicking on the comment link above. I want to see what you have to say.