Blackfoot Cooking and Baking Recipes for the Holiday Season

Berry-UpSide Down Cake_baked

A Berry-Upside Down Cake from a cake recipe in Beverly Hungry Wolf’s monograph titled “The Ways of My Grandmothers” in the Blackfoot Collection Documents in eHRAF World Cultures

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving on behalf of the HRAF staff!

As you may know, our online cross-cultural database, eHRAF World Cultures, contains mostly ethnographic descriptions. However, eHRAF also contains some cooking recipes for some yummy dishes. In online demos of eHRAF World Cultures you’ll often find me pointing to the Document Collections in the Blackfoot culture, located in Browse Cultures in the Plains and Plateau Region of North America. In the Blackfoot file my favorite document is a monograph that is titled “The Ways of My Grandmothers,” written by Beverly Hungry Wolf, a member of the Blackfoot Tribe, and published in 1980.

In an abstract of the monograph, written by former HRAF analyst Marlene Martin, she describes the book as consisting of personal narratives of elderly Blackfoot women. She describes Beverly Hungry Wolf’s “experiences in learning to live like her ancestors, mythology, and miscellaneous data on such topics as food preparation and clothing. Many photographs and text figures are included.”
Martin’s reference to cooking, usually expressed by HRAF-specific subject, “Food Preparation” or “OCM 252,” is reflected in the document’s table of contents and a chapter titled “Preparing Food,” including recipes such as Indian Bannock Bread, Campfire Ribs, and Elk or Venison Swiss Steak.

staff eating berry cake

HRAF employees tasting the freshly baked berry upside-down cake at yesterday’s staff meeting.

Yesterday’s staff meeting served as great opportunity for me to try my luck in making use of one of the recipes. I chose the ”Berry Upside-down Cake” because it seem simple to make, with ingredients usual for a pound cake recipe (e.g., butter, sugar, eggs, flour, etc.) and various freshly picked or dried berries. Because HRAF is located in the urban city of New Haven, CT and because of the time of year, frozen blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and strawberries from the supermarket, served as good substitutes. With a little coaching from my colleague Marilyn, HRAF’s administrator and food guru, my ethnic baking adventure was successful. So, yesterday’s staff meeting turned into a Thanksgiving and food tasting party with the Blackfoot Berry Upside-down Cake being the hit.

Here is a screenshot of the recipe as it appears in context of the page and document.

Berry-UpSideDown Cake

The Berry Upside-down Cake, circled in red, as it appears in the page of a document in the Blackfoot File in eHRAF World Cultures

The permalink to the recipe is: http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/ehrafe/citation.do?method=citation&forward=browseAuthorsFullContext&id=nf06-020 . Click on “Body” in the Table of Contents and scroll down to the section titled “Preparing Food” and “Berry Upside-down Cake.” Please note that in order to log on to eHRAF you or your institution need to be a member of HRAF (usually via log-in through the library online portal), or be provided with a temporary log-in by HRAF.

With more holidays around the corner I hope that the next HRAF staff-meeting (or party?) will be yet another opportunity for a food quest through the eHRAF World Cultures database.

Wishing you all a very Happy and Relaxing Thanksgiving!

Christiane Cunnar, HRAF Member Services