Friendly Friday:
2017 Living Breath Indigenous Foods and Ecological Knowledge Symposium

Last Friday was The Living Breath of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ: Indigenous Foods and Ecological Knowledge Symposium. Folks from afar had made it to the University of Washington campus, including youth leadership from tribes as far away as NE Alaska.*

Inside the main room of the Intellectual House.

If you’re interested in advancing your knowledge in food movements, or advancing equity, there’s exciting work afoot from the folks in this space.

A few tidbits, big and small:

  • The gathering was held in a highly symbolic space at the Intellectual House. It felt extra meaningful in an inclusive way, to welcome members of all tribes and backgrounds. The solidarity here felt strong, and I think other cultural clusterings could really learn from such an example, and benefit from more exchange of ideas. They also began with an acknowledgement that the UW is built on tribal land.
  • Hyamiciate, Della (Rice) Sylvester of the Cowichan Tribes on Vancouver Island opened the gathering with an elder blessing. It was heartwarming to hear her share her wisdom on her lifelong study of medicinal plants and her life experience. It was also great and fitting contrast with the theme of the event, which was on highlighting native youth.
  • The keynote speaker was Kalilah Rampanen, a musician, songwriter and activist who is Nuu-chah-nulth, Woodland Cree and Finnish. Per program details, at sixteen years of age, her music “explores Indigenous, environmental, and social horizons that combine acoustic, blues, and alternative styles of expression. I was very sad to have missed this, and while keeping an eye out for follow-up notes from the symposium, have made do with YouTube videos of her songs.
  • I attended a presentation on Squaxin Island Tribal Food Sovereignty Actions by tribal members and students Aleta Poste and Candace Penn, along with UW student and Melissa Poe. I especially loved hearing from about growing up rich in culture, feeling passionate about passing on stories of gathering nettles, clams and geoduck to students while giving them experience in biology field work.
  • One common and inspiring theme among this, the community garden project, and sovereignty projects was the importance of sharing the knowledge and use of First Foods, its ability to empower, and the opportunity to spend meaningful time together as a community through activities stewarding these foods.
  • Did you know: there are only 3 fresh water mussels in the region? If you learn them all, you are an expert! (Candace Penn)
  • Another interesting tidbit: every tribe that’s federally recognized has its own Natural Resources Department.
  • This symposium was entirely volunteer-run, wow!

There were many other exciting things covered at the symposium, abstracts can be found on the symposium program.

Oh right, this is a food blog. “What did you eat, Yiling?”
There was a first foods tasting table, the main feature photo of this post. Also, I ate bitterroot, which had the texture of enoki mushrooms (or enoki had the texture of bitterroot). The native food they were preparing smelled delicious and it drove me a little wild to have to leave before it was ready to eat.

Bitterroot Samples

Trial Experience Rating:
Novelty Rating:
in this case, it feels crass to use the word novelty lest I other the experience, so let’s just say I haven’t attended a meeting of the minds like this in quite some time. The familiarity of being among other people with “respect for elders” as a strong value was really sweet to me, while it was also refreshing to see the different flavor of a more playful mentorship attitude from Hyamiciate than I’ve found in East Asian elders. Caveat: tiny sample size, don’t generalize from this.

Likelihood of Repeat: 100% seems the symposium has grown in verve and popularity since its inception in 2015, so I expect it to happen again next year. I’d certainly be happy to go! I only caught wind of it after a prior commitment was set so only got a brief moment to attend. Would happily go back.
On a personal level, I also really enjoyed seeing the range of attendees participating, from Morgan up from Portland who works educating youth in healthy foods, the chair of the Geography department, Dr. Charlotte Cote who has written on revitalizing Indigenous food practices, and especially students leading the shift to promote First Foods and real engagement in their own communities.

Further Reading:

UW article featuring the event

Books for further learning!

 

*Is it a faux pas to refer to a region by the modern Western territory? Somebody pls school me on this..

Pro-Tip Tuesday:
Alt Uses for a Water Bottle While on the Road 2

Here’s one from my significant other’s mountaineering class. I froze my ass off camping in in Bryce Canyon so you don’t have to.

While camping, you can fill a large nalgene (or other water) bottle with hot water before bed, and put it in your sleeping bag for extra warmth all night! If you find the surface a little burn-y to your skin, you can wrap a bandana around the bottle.

Yours Truly, wearing 9 layers to make up for freezing in my 32F sleeping bag since it was 25F in Bryce Canyon. I look a bit of a gremlin in my clothes + K’s clothes, but I do feel warmer.

Bonus warmth points if you drink all the water once you wake up. Staying hydrated, friends!

Also see: Pro-Tip Tuesday: Alt Uses for Your Water Bottle While on the Road 1

What alternative uses do you have for your nalgene bottle? Please share!

Friendly Friday: Introducing the Bizarro Tumblr, a Look Behind the Scenes

My friend Amy asked me when I was in Minnesota once, “do you ever make recipes that don’t turn out?”  and that spurred me starting a collection of fail/disappointment pictures. These have been deposited here as a stream, and has started to include situations I think funny.

You know, we’re all human, and we might as well admit it online, right?

I hope it makes you laugh. Let me know yes or no on that.

Tumblr snapshot

Future posts may also just include general behind-the-scenes tidbits, but you’ll just have to keep watching to find oot.

Going Home
Taiwan Adventures 1

Dear reader,
I’m trying something different this time with the writing. Let me know how it goes. Thanks!
Y

Belonging is a funny thing. As an Asian American kid growing up in Minnesota, I just wanted to be like everyone else I knew. My mother (born in Taiwan) persistently spoke to me in Chinese despite my brother and I coming home from school and responding in English for about ..twelve years. My parents sent me to Chinese language school on Saturday mornings. Despite being a good student on weekdays, come Saturday morning, I would just put down all the words I’d crammed for the quiz Friday night, wistfully think of the cartoons on tv I was missing while in class, then get on with my day.* Perhaps this allowed me to continue pretending I would grow up to be 6 feet tall, blond-haired and blue-eyed, with Scandinavian features when I grew up (it’s Minnesota, people look like that).

This April, an opportunity came up for me to go to Taiwan. Unlike last Fall, this one worked with my schedule and current obligations and seemed a good chance to go explore places where my mother grew up. It would be my first time back in 16 years. I say “back,” but honestly, I’ve been to Taiwan three times in my life: Continue Reading

Friendly Friday:
Is Koji the New Cool Kid Coming to Your Kitchen?

When is fusion food a good idea? Seems worth a try, especially in the case of Koji!

In this week’s installment of Friendly Friday: shoutout to one of my favorite podcasts for their inspiration-sparking episode this week, Gastropod:

Listen: Meet Koji, Your New Favorite Fungus (Gastropod)

Read: The Science of Koji – Cook’s Science (by Gastropod co-producer C. Graber)

Try: Koji- Cured Grilled Salmon Recipe (Saveur Magazine)

I find this especially a propo, since I’ve been getting into different kinds of non-refrigeration experiments, like pickles, adobo, and sourdough starter. It’s a great way to save money, food, and explore parts of our heritage tied to non-electric food preservation.

Have you tried Koji or other new fermentation-related foods?

Contact me or comment below to share your adventures and delight!

Pro-Tip Tuesday:
Alt Uses for a Water Bottle While on the Road 1

Discovery in the desert, Moab, Utah near Arches National Park:

While on the road, you can use a large Nalgene bottle (or other water bottle) as a stand-in for a foam roller to roll out your thighs and other muscles, a great plus if you, say, went for a hike while car camping and have sore muscles! For my petite frame, my size water bottle worked (see slightly awkward feature photo for this post). If you have larger thighs, try a longer water bottle. Gonna be thirsty anyway.

For a video demo: Kinetic Sports Rehab’s Youtube video on how to foam roll your quads, my local neighborhood therapist.

For other ideas on foam roller usage: Runner’s World Foam Roller How-to

Also see: Pro-Tip Tuesday: Alt Uses for a Water Bottle While on the Road 2

Moab Vignette

View of the Moab Desert, Utah around 5AM 4-17-2017.

Bonus post for you subscribers!

When I close my eyes, I can still see the desert.

I look down and toe the red-brown dirt at my feet. I look up, and a vast horizon unfolds before me, the carpet of dirt for miles, dotted with the occasional tenacious yellow-green scrub bush. Far beyond, a ribbon wall of canyon cliffs lines the horizon. It is striped vermillion, pink, and a subtle purple in the dawn light. Distant rocky mountains toooed with snow peek out from beyond some unseen border. Above, the sky begins to lighten to its blue blue tint for the day, a vast and airy canopy smudged by some unseen but zealous artist with wisps of cloud.

The fresh bracing air whispers by, and carries a faint low of distant cows breaking their fast.

When I close my eyes, I can still see the desert, and it whispers in my ear with tranquil calm from eons of age.

Blog News: How to Get Food the Wong Way, Right Away?

What do you call some one who works on contract for a scribe? A sub-scriber!

A yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk. How do you get Food the Wong Way posts right away? A short bit of blog news here: you can now subscribe to get email alerts via the ‘Subscribe!’ option on this main page. On full web browser: it’s to the right, below the ‘Hello’ section. On mobile: it’ll be below that ‘Hello’ section at the very bottom of your browser. I promise not to sell your info to a spam list.

Little-known secret: not everything that goes up here goes up on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram accounts, and some times what does go up did not go up right away. Thanks for putting up with my corny jokes. ;D I made that one up myself, just for you.