Survival Food: North Woods Stories by a Menominee Cook (Paperback)

Survival Food: North Woods Stories by a Menominee Cook By Thomas Pecore Weso Cover Image

Survival Food: North Woods Stories by a Menominee Cook (Paperback)


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An intimate and engaging Native food memoir

In these coming-of-age tales set on the Menominee Indian Reservation of the 1980s and 1990s, Thomas Pecore Weso explores the interrelated nature of meals and memories. As he puts it, “I cannot separate foods from the moments in my life when I first tasted them.” Weso’s stories recall the foods that influenced his youth in northern Wisconsin: subsistence meals from hunted, fished, and gathered sources; the culinary traditions of the German, Polish, and Swedish settler descendants in the area; and the commodity foods distributed by the government—like canned pork, dried beans, and powdered eggs—that made up the bulk of his family’s pantry. His mom called this “survival food.”

These stories from the author’s teen and tween years—some serious, some laugh-out-loud funny—will take readers from Catholic schoolyards to Native foot trails to North Woods bowling alleys, while providing Weso’s perspective on the political currents of the era. The book also contains dozens of recipes, from turtle soup and gray squirrel stew to twice-baked cheesy potatoes. This follow-up to Weso’s Good Seeds: A Menominee Indian Food Memoir is a hybrid of modern foodways, Indigenous history, and creative nonfiction from a singular storyteller.
Thomas Pecore Weso (1953–2023) was an author, educator, artist, and enrolled member of the Menominee Indian Nation of Wisconsin. His book Good Seeds: A Menominee Indian Food Memoir, published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press in 2016, was reviewed widely and won a national Gourmand Award. He also wrote many articles and personal essays, a biography of Langston Hughes with coauthor Denise Low, and the children’s book Native American Stories for Kids (Rockridge Press, 2022), which was named a 2023 Kansas Notable Book. Weso was an alumnus of Haskell Indian Nations University and the University of Kansas, where he earned a master’s degree in Indigenous studies. He died in Sonoma County, California, on July 14, 2023.
Product Details ISBN: 9781976600210
ISBN-10: 1976600219
Publisher: Wisconsin Historical Society Press
Publication Date: November 7th, 2023
Pages: 312
Language: English
“This book is not only about survival food, but about the singular beauty, creativity, and fortitude that comes out of that survival.”
— Chef Sean Sherman, author of The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen

Survival Food is interesting because it’s one part cookbook, three parts memoir, one part history, and one part multidisciplinary exploration of its setting, northern Wisconsin."
— James Norton, The Cookbook Test

Survival Food provides ample nourishment for the mind and body. ... The stories, told with humor and affection, are complemented by recipes ranging from mouth-watering instructions for cooking wild asparagus to ever-so-interesting advice for preparing bear stew.”
— Lucille Lang Day, author of Birds of San Pancho and Other Poems of Place and coeditor of Red Indian Road West: Native American Poetry from California