We are what we eat, how we eat and where we eat. This concept is at the center of FUZE.SW, the still brilliant new food and folklore conference at Museum Hill, where the subject of Southwestern cuisine will be carefully chewed up and digested from every possible angle: socio-cultural, archaeological, academic, traditional and culinary.
FUZE is the brainchild of Museum of New Mexico publicist Steve Cantrell, who envisioned the original event as a way to promote and complement the 2013 exhibit New World Cuisine: The Stories of Chocolate, Mate y MÃ¡s at the International Folk Art Museum. This exhibition dealt with the food of the Americas and the dialogue between indigenous and introduced foods. The first conference was, according to Cantrell, sufficient success that participants wanted to start over.
âWe also looked at how food is a lens that, in a very non-threatening way, allows us to look at our culture,â Cantrell explains. “Speaking of the history of the Spanish in Mexico, people have heard this before.” But discussing how the Spanish influenced New Mexico with their food offers a different, more intimate, and borderline feminist lens through which to view New Mexico history. Cantrell mentions the ladies in the kitchens who were responsible for the now ubiquitous dishes in the local cuisine. “These are the ladies who created what we now eat at La Choza and Maria’s [New Mexican Kitchen],” he says.
This year, FUZE will focus on Native American foods and the fusion between Native American and Mexican / Spanish foods.
âThis year is kind of the prequel to last year,â Cantrell said. âWe take a step back and say that before the Spaniards came, we had the Native Americans hereâ¦ and oh, by the way, we really have to be careful what they doâ¦ because they were farming in a that was much healthier.
FUZE runs for three days, from Friday September 12 to Sunday September 14. Friday and Saturday are serious conference days, filled from breakfast to dinner with lectures and tastings by a fleet of distinguished writers, chefs and food professionals.
A short opening speech opens each day, followed by three or four âfastalksâ – short 15-minute talks designed to whet the appetite for the topics covered. Fastalk’s topics include “The ‘New’ Pueblo Diet,” piki bread, the history of avocados, and indigenous biotechnology. A talk titled âNot All Rats on a Stickâ discusses colonial stereotypes about the realities of Indigenous foods from an archaeological perspective.
After the morning âfastalksâ, participants divide into one of the many simultaneous panels (seats are allocated on a first come, first served basis). Topics on the panel include agriculture in the high desert, native cookware, corn, and how native chefs define their culinary identity. There is a discussion on tacos and even a panel on micaceous pottery and how to cook with it.
âIn this talk, we’ll actually be looking at some of the methods Native Americans used to farm,â Cantrell said. âIt’s not so smart in New Mexico for us to cultivate fields and fields and fields of alfalfa. Alfalfa is not native. Cattle are not native.
On Saturday, a panel will discuss Navajo churro sheep and Corriente cattle, which Cantrell says are much less damaging to the land than European cattle.
Many of the names of the speakers will be familiar to you, such as James Beard Award-winning authors Bill and Cheryl Jamison (The Rancho de ChimayÃ³ Cookbook: Traditional New Mexico Cuisine); Deborah Madison (Plant literacy); food journalist Betty Fussell; Katharine Kagel, owner of CafÃ© Pasqual; and Tina Ujlaki, Food Editor of Food and wine magazine. They will be joined by a large number of local chiefs, including promising Native American chiefs Freddie Bitsoie (DinÃ©) and Wenona Nutima of Tesuque Pueblo.
Madison, who gave a âfastalkâ in 2013, is much more involved this year. âI went last year; I was a speaker when it was brand new and ‘what do we do?â Madison says. âI thought it was a really interesting conferenceâ¦ issues of gender, contact, the good, the bad and the ugly, the dishes they use. There are a lot of unique themes happening in these panels that could be lectures in themselves. “
And of course, between all the talks, there are the tastings and meals, which will be memorable events. On Fridays offers tastings of piki bread (Hopi blue corn flatbread), vegan hominy stew, local cider and a ‘grandma’s lunch’ in which traditional dishes will be prepared by real grandmothers. all over the state, including the pueblos. If you don’t have a New Mexican Grandma, this might be your big chance to see what it is. On Saturday night, an exclusive Buffalo Dinner at Museum Hill for the first 100 people to buy tickets, prepared by John Sedlar, one of the creators of ‘Modern Southwestern Cuisine’ who will return to his hometown with his new restaurant at the Drury Plaza hotel. . The events are interspersed with âartistic breaks,â including food-themed poetry readings.
Sunday is free for the public. Museum Hill will be swarmed with local food trucks that day, and the public is invited to the full-day event featuring Native American dancers, cooking demonstrations, cookbook dedications, and activities for them. children.
The conference is not cheap, however. Tickets cost $ 250, but for that price, guests can participate in all Friday and Saturday conference events, including all tastings and meals.
A portion of the ticket price is a tax-deductible donation to the Museum of International Folk Art and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.