Local cuisine can be found anywhere one travels on this earth. Just as art, language, customs, and institutions, food is also culture. When one indulges in a traditional dish, they will be diving into decades- or centuries-old history when this meal was perfected. This will give people insight into the land where this dish originated and the people who created it. While many people who enjoy traveling to different parts of the world can learn about a region's specific history by trying its traditional foods and dishes, they may find this difficult to achieve in North America, where there aren't many restaurants that offer dishes highlighting the Indigenous cuisines of the region. Many people don't even think about the indigenous population of North America as having a cuisine. However, this is not the case at the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma.
Here's What To Know About Oklahoma's First Americans Museum
The First Americans Museum opened on September 2021 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The museum tells the stories of the 39 First American Nations of Oklahoma, which were removed from their homelands in the US and forced to leave for Oklahoma. The First Americans Museum celebrates the contributions, cultures, and diversity of these 39 First American Nations. While visitors to the museum enjoy exploring the history and much more via sound, touch, and sight, the museum's restaurant, Thirty Nine, allows them to learn about and understand the indigenous people's cultures much more deeply by indulging in the taste of the dishes that feature traditional ingredients used by the 39 nations in Oklahoma and also in their homelands.
Native communities can be found in the hundreds across the country, and each one of them has its unique food culture. The menu at Thirty Nine Restaurant in Oklahoma is almost similar to the traditional Native Americans cuisine. It is seasonal and regional, influenced by what lives, swims, grows, and flies in the region. The restaurant's chef and consultant determined this by researching the cooking methods of the indigenous peoples and what they ate in their homelands. Many ingredients were also sourced from nearby Native Nations. This is how Thirty Nine Restaurant at the First Americans Museum came up with dishes that represent the traditions and cuisines of the 39 nations.
Here's What To Know About Thirty Nine Restaurant's Menu In Oklahoma
The menu at Thirty Nine Restaurant is an homage to the continent's bounty and features various ingredients such as wild rice, turkey, salmon, bison, corn, sage, squash, and beans. These were the main ingredients included in the diet of North America's indigenous people for hundreds of years. The restaurant also serves bean hummus with fry bread, which was also a staple in the Natives' diet and is intertwined with the nation's history.
While the vegetables and seafood represent the natural abundance of ingredients that the indigenous people cultivated and consumed while living in their homelands, other ingredients, such as the fry bread represent the survival and resilience while bringing awareness to the lack of access to healthful fare and food insecurity that impacted the natives who were living on reservations. For example, fry bread originated when the Native communities were forced off their ancestral lands and were offered lard, processed sugar, and white flour by the government to be used as survival foods.
The Mission Behind Thirty Nine Restaurant In Oklahoma
Apart from offering delicious dishes in Oklahoma, Thirty Nine Restaurant at First Americans Museum wants to raise awareness through its menu, and through each and every ingredient used in the dishes, that the indigenous people of North America are still here and to highlight the truth of their diversity, even though they are all living today in one country which is different from other cultures who are spread over many nations worldwide. While it's still challenging to find indigenous foods in American cities across the country, many Indigenous activists and chefs are changing the narrative and bringing traditional dishes to American tables and restaurants. The First Americans Museum is introducing its visitors to the flavors and ingredients of the First Peoples on the continent, and the diners are wowed by the healthiness, beauty, and tastiness of these unique dishes.
The menu at Thirty Nine Restaurant was partly crafted by Indigenous chefs Matthew Johnson, known as Cherokee, and Loretta Barrett Oden, known as Potawatomi Nation. People can visit the restaurant and dine in without paying the entrance fee to the First Americans Museum. They simply get to Thirty Nine Restaurant by entering the door next to the gift shop.
- What to eat: People are advised to try the bison burger loaded with tomato jam, squash pickles, garlic-sage aioli, and pickled red onions. The turkey breast is also a must-try. It is served with green beans, cornbread dressing, crispy onions, sage chimichurri, and cranberry gastrique. Other essentials to try include the white bean hummus, butternut squash soup, and corn ribs.