Survival Food: North Woods Stories by a Menominee Cook
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.