How's the cooking at a pow wow?

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Answered by: Victoria, An Expert in the Regional Specialty Foods Category
Friday afternoon I had the opportunity to attend the American Indian Pow Wow at Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I arrived early to asses the crowd and to see just who was in attendance. There was a multitude of people. There were many families with children. Many were there to celebrate their Native heritage, like myself. There were many vendors of leather goods and jewelry.

Noon came and it was time to be seated because it was time for the grand entry. Drums were beaten and the dancers made their procession around the ring. The dancers were considerable in numbers. Many different tribes from the east coast were represented. There were even Mexicans (Aztec) there.They wore beautiful clothing. Some wore traditional buckskin clothing, some wore colorful regalia. They wore leather, lace, feathers, cotton, and intricate bead work. There were many dances performed. It was all so breathtakingly gorgeous. There were brilliant blues, fiery red, grassy greens, and so many other colors.

I've been asked before what the cooking at a pow wow was like. There were many native dishes and some familiar dishes with a native twist. As I went around from vendor to vendor I saw many palette and palate pleasing dishes. I met a vendor named Atlan Lopez who was selling Mexican foods. He had Xoars filled with black beans and served with guacamole. Most would know Xoars as tamales. He also had warm white maize tlaxcallis, which we usually call tortillas.

At another vendor I found "Rudys in a blanket" and Native American tacos. "Rudys in a blanket" are very much like pigs in blanket. A spicy Reindeer sausage is wrapped in bread dough then baked for a wonderfully spicy treat. A Native American taco is served on thin fry bread. In this taco was Romaine lettuce, Dandelion leaves, ground Bison buffalo, wild chives, Cherokee Purple tomatoes, Great Northern beans and crumbled White Cheese. I loved the tacos but my favorite was the Native corn soup. The soup is a simple but tasty eat. That is just some of the cooking at a pow wow.

All in all, it was a great festival. I recommend anyone wanting to know more about native cultures in the Americas or wanting something fun for the family to do, to find a pow wow near them.

Native Corn Soup

1 lb. cooked cubed chicken (optional)

4 cups dried white corn

1 tbsp. hardwood ash

1 cup small white beans (optional)




1. Boil your corn and ash for two hours, in just enough water to cover the corn. Stir often.

2. Strain the corn but don't rinse it. Return the corn back to the pot.

3. Add chicken, beans, and water. The water should be about 2 inches above the food. Boil for about 1 & 1/2 hours, or until corn opens up to your satisfaction.

4. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. Enjoy.

Personally, I like to add sautéed chives to my soup. Don't confuse chives with green onions or garlic. When in doubt ask your local farmer or grocer.

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