With the Fourth Of July upon us, backyard grills will be firing up from sea to shining sea. While American Independence from British overlords is the crux of the holiday, it’s the backyard BBQs, smokey meats, and ice cold beers that are the core of everyone’s day off (plus blowing sh*t up, obvi).
What’s always felt odd to us is that the most American of American holidays doesn’t really celebrate actual indigenous American foods. That needs to change. Sure, we all love a great hamburger and our devotion to hot dogs is unparalleled. But, let’s face it, those are both German foods. Hell, the second busiest day for ordering pizza in America is the 4th. And, as much as we love pizza around here too, it’s still about as Italian as you can get.
So this year, how about celebrating America (the place) with food that’s actually from here. We’ve compiled a short list of some great foods that are as varied and multicultural as America itself. These are the foods that are American in the geographical sense — and were the cornerstones of the indigenous foodways for millennia.
Spend the morning of the Rama learning to cook over a beachside campfire, enjoying delicious food and drink! There are a few spots left in the Iron, Fire & Brine campfire cooking class by @tournantpdx with @hayforkwineco, link in profile! Photos by @evakosmasflores #hamahamaoysterrama #oysterrama2018
Ever had a bone-in bison ribeye??? 🔥 Credit: @overthefirecooking #overthefirecooking #bison #bisonribeye #wildgame #wildmeat #buffalo #firecooking #openfirecooking #livefirecooking #livefire #openfire #outdoorcooking #outsidecooking #cookingoutside #meat #meatlover #meatporn #wildcooking #campfirecooking #asado #churrasco #braai #grilling #castironskillet
The American Buffalo, or Bison, is as American as America gets. The buffalo is so iconic it used to be on the nickel (we should totally bring that back, btw). Buffalo meat is also making a huge comeback, after being on the verge of extinction just 100 years ago. As a food protien, it’s not factory farmed and largely free-range/ grass fed while also being humanely raised and butchered.
For the uninitiated, Bison steaks have a much cleaner taste that shines with an earthy mineral quality. It’s kinda like beef turned up to eleven — with a cleaner taste to the fattiness and crisper taste to the lean bits. It’s also cleaner when it comes to hormones and antibiotics, as most herds are all organic across the board these days.
If you’re east of the Mississippi, it may be a little harder to source this meat. If you’re west of the Big Muddy, it’ll be much easier to find it in most regular grocery stores. Still, there are plenty of butchers who will ship you plenty of delicious buffalo anywhere in America.
WILD GAME SAUSAGES
Look, we love chicken, pork, and beef in this country but those are invasive species. Pigs and cows were brought here by the Spanish in the 1500s and chickens showed up via the Polynesians sometime in the 1300s. So, while there is a long history of those forms of animal protein, they aren’t “American” by any stretch.
What is American is all forms of cervine species (moose, elk, deer, antelope, caribou) along with a wide array of foul (duck, goose, pheasant) and, as mentioned, buffalo. Sausages were a food commodity in the Americas for millennia. The Lakota would hang rows and rows of sausages on the Great Plains to dry after a hunt and that tradition is starting to come back today as indigenous foodways are re-embraced across this country.
Honestly, what’s more 4th of July than a great sausage popping on the grill? Nothing, that’s what. Again, finding wild game sausages will be hard to do back east. You can get them shipped to you overnight though. Find a butcher that’s doing some great work with those meats and give it a whirl.