We had a wonderful start to our fourth-and-fifth-grade unit on Native American food traditions and food culture this week. We started in the classroom where students shared what they knew and questions they had about the Ohlone, the native peoples of the San Francisco Bay Area. What did they eat? What did their languages sound like? How many tribes were there? We then watched a video about two Ohlone chefs who are keeping indigenous food traditions alive at their cafe in Berkeley. (We are working with their organization to arrange a visit to Harvey Milk later this spring!) One takeaway that many of us found powerful about the video is that the Ohlone are still here, still gathering together, still a part of our modern-day local community.
In the kitchen, students brewed a tea made with rose hips, yerba buena, white sage, bay laurel, and local blackberry honey. They washed dandelion, sorrel, and watercress, and made a salad with ingredients Ohlone people would have foraged: quail eggs, edible flowers, edible roots, and seeds. Using a mortar and pestle, we made a simple dressing of sorrel, onion, honey, and oil. At our closing circle, students shared that the salad and tea both reminded them of the foods we still eat today and struck them as different from our modern-day diet. One chef remarked that the Ohlone ate “delicious nature food.”