Kelly the Culinarian: Food find: National Museum of the American Indian

Friday, October 12, 2007

Food find: National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is one of the most fascinating buildings on the mall, not just because of its architecture, but also it's minimal collection and amazing food court.

Founded by an act of Congress in 1989, the museum was built to preserve, honor and celebrate Native American history throughout the Western hemisphere. The building was designed by an architect who is a member of the Blackfoot tribe to honor nature and the surroundings. Stones were brought in from New Mexico to adorn the exterior and the landscape is filling with native plants.

What's odd is the emptiness within the museum. Although they boast a collection of 800,000 artifacts, the museum features many movies and other displays. If my practicum in anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago taught me anything, many of these irreplaceable artifacts are stored away to never be displayed at the request of the tribes. Regardless, there are some really interesting exhibits, such as this one about women's tribal wear, including modern outfits worn for tribal dance competitions and elaborately beaded dresses made of multiple animal hides once worn by the wives of high-ranking Native Americans.

The foodcourt at the museum is widely regarded as the destination for hungry diners with a flair for the exotic. Each section of the food court features a different region in Native American cuisine. You can pick up everything from blue corn bread to buffalo chili to razorback clam salad. The most mainstream thing you can get is a buffalo burger with sweet potato chunks, but why would you? There's just so much else to choose.

On my first visit, which I'm sure will be followed up by many other dining experiences, included this postelito with choclo corn, free-range chicken, potatoes, olives, chili and egg cooked in a pastry-try dough with a mild tomato-based sauce on the side. This little savory pastry packed a punch. Not only was a full of a variety of vegetables that all managed to still be cooked to perfection, but I was also left with a lingering spice that didn't burn my mouth but kept me from overeating. And the outside crust was delicious -- it was browned nicely and slightly flaky, but not so much that I expected fruit compote to come tumbling out. At $9, this wasn't an everyday treat, but I do plan to return to the foodcourt to try some buffalo or clams.

6 comments:

Cakespy said...

I love coming across excellent food in unexpected places like this...it's a combination of the surprise and the fact that a place like this didn't scrimp on food when they could have (I mean it's a museum after all, people are probably going for the art primarily)...and the picture looks really yummy! You have a great writing style!

Cynthia said...

It always to find a treat that feeds the brain and the stomach.

Saju said...

Wow that photo is fanastic! I want to eat the postelito. I am going to google that now, looks so yummy.

Fruit species said...

This is the kind of place I would love to be in. The culture, the food, the history...
Fruity

Tracy Tan said...

the postelito look like curry puffs we have back in Malaysia :)

Sirisha Kilambi said...

wow...have been to this place before...I liked it too dear :-)