In Sydney, a Cafe Serving Aboriginal Food Brings Comfort and Challenges

FOR NYOKA HRABINSKY, GROWING UP in Queensland, Australia, “bush tucker” was a delicious part of everyday life. Of the native foods that have sustained Aboriginal communities for millennia, “wallaby was my favorite. Swamp turtle was my other favorite,” she says. A member of the Yidindji people, Hrabinsky grew up “on country”—in her community’s traditional land—watching her…

The Chef Bringing Native American Flavors to Communities in Quarantine

WHAT’S IN YOUR KITCHEN PANTRY? If you answered quinoa, green beans, or potatoes, you have, perhaps unbeknownst to you, been eating Native American heritage. “They might not know they have indigenous foods in their cupboard: might be canned corn, canned beans, squash,” says Brian Yazzie, a Twin Cities-based chef and food activist from the Navajo Nation,…

The Chocolate-Brewing Witches of Colonial Latin America

IT HAPPENED, PERHAPS, ONE HOT, humid night, mist over the mountains that bordered the colonial city of Santiago de Guatemala. Melchora de los Reyes, a young, mixed-raced woman, had sex with her lover. When she met him, she was a virgin, a doncella, a status that made her eligible for marriage in the strict, Catholic society of…

Easter Island’s Monoliths Made the Crops Grow

WHEN EUROPEANS FIRST REACHED RAPA Nui, or Easter Island, on Easter Day, 1722, they were awed to find around 1,000 imposing stone moai, or monoliths, carved in the shape of human beings. The statues overlooked a barren landscape. While archaeological evidence shows that Rapa Nui was once lushly forested, by the time Europeans reached the island, it had…

How to Feed a Megacity Like the Aztecs

WHEN CONQUISTADOR HERNÁN CORTÉS REACHED Tenochtitlan in 1519, he beheld a floating city. The temples and palaces of the Aztec capital gleamed white from an island in the middle of a vast lake, all spread under a searing blue sky. With an estimated population of 200,000, roughly the size of contemporary Paris, the city overflowed with people. Around…

A Pirate Botanist Helped Bring Hot Chocolate to England

IF YOU HAD MET HIM the year his famous book was published, you might have mistaken William Hughes for a mild-mannered gardener. By that time, he had settled into his role at the country estate of the Viscountess Conway, a noblewoman and philosopher, and had published a book on grapevines. But the old man was more…

Canadians Were Better at Clamming 3,500 Years Ago

TWELVE-THOUSAND YEARS AGO, THE GLACIERS receded from modern-day British Columbia, leaving the land to bleed silt into the sea. In the salty shallows hugging the coast, bivalves struggled to survive, growing slow and dying small in the fluctuating temperatures of the newly thawed ocean. Their shells fell to the floor and built up on beaches, forming…

The Restaurant Putting India’s Disappearing Tribal Cuisine Back on the Menu

WHEN ARUNA TIRKEY, A MEMBER of Central India’s Oraon indigenous community, walked into her small town’s glossy new department store almost a decade ago, one product made her stop short: a packet of millet. Known locally among the Oraon as madua, millet was a staple in Tirkey’s family when she was growing up. As the influence of…

Found: Slime-Covered Notebooks Full of Conservation Data and Fish Scales

SKIP MCKINNELL FOUND THE SLIM books in a Vancouver basement: stacks of field notes coated with salmon scales still stuck to the 100-year-old fiber with slime. Then affiliated with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, McKinnell had read about the notebooks, which allegedly contained extensive data about and samples from British Columbia’s salmon population from the first…