Food is an important part of any culture and in the US, the food scene is quite the melting pot of meals. International twists have long since made their claim on the typical dishes we know and love, but the native people of this country were serving up their own cuisine long before new meals came over with increased immigration.
Each tribe across the nation had their own meals, which were dependent on the food sources available to them, typical weather patterns, and the seasons. While many might think their meals were simple, that's not necessarily the case - it's human nature to desire flavor and satisfaction from a meal, and many of the early tribes and settlers found ways to boost flavor with what was available. The US might not have a habit of "Americanizing" food, but it certainly has a history of food culture.
Bread was a big staple for cuisine but not in the way that we know it today. There were no extravagant olive loaves or fancy banana bread. Rather, something called Acorn Bread was a popular accompaniment to a meal.
This was a popular meal for the Pomo and Miwok tribes of what we now know as California and was made with pulverized acorns. It would have been done with some type of mortar and pestle back then, but these days, a food processor would do the trick much easier.
Stews have always been part of American cuisine throughout the centuries. The Native Americans did have their own depending on which type of meat they had access to, and in Cherokee Nation, you'd likely find the popular buffalo stew. This hearty beef stew would not only provide warmth on a chilly day but would also provide protein for the tribe in a way that would stretch other ingredients.
Pine Nut Catfish
It's no shake 'n bake but it was appetizing, nonetheless. Pine Nut Catfish was created by tribes in the New Mexico region, and it was simply catfish breaded with ground-up pine nuts and cornmeal. This would add a nutty flavor (especially from roasted pine nuts) while also getting some fiber and additional calories into the tribe's diet, which was necessary for day after day of tough physical labor.
Baked Pumpkin Or Roast Squash
Most easily cooked were the vegetables. Simply roasted over an open flame or in the ground, something such as pumpkin could quickly become a meal for the entire tribe or family. Squash is a hearty vegetable that would feed quite a few people, and it's also packed with good nutrients that made it a healthy meal as well.
Many of the early recipes originated with vegetables, as they were easy to grow and many tribes and settlers had entire fields and gardens devoted to a year's supply of crops.
Corn, beans, pork, and water are truly all you need to start a good succotash. This dish was easy but also filling, and it was a great way to use up extra vegetables. With rendered animal fat, the dish was given a boost of flavor (today, bacon fat is preferred). It's still a fairly well-known dish to this day, considering its roots date far prior to the Great Depression when it made a comeback.