Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

SCENE

Munch Like a Mayan

June 13, 1996|CHARLES PERRY

Think about it: a whole Beverly Hills backyard full of munching archeologists. That's what was going on last Saturday when the Friends of Archeology held its 10th annual pre-Columbian potluck. The rule was that you could serve anything as long as it contained only ingredients known in the Americas before 1492.

It was not the most competitive cooking event in town by a long shot. Mostly it was a social event, with lots of howdies and where've-you-beens. (You could tell the archeologists recently returned from digs by their sun-bronzed complexions).

And it could be an educational experience. Did you know that when obsidian is chipped to create a sharp edge, the newly exposed surface is slightly permeable by hydrogen ions? You can date an obsidian knife by measuring the depth of the permeated "rind" (which will only be a fraction of a hair's-breadth thick). How about that?

Despite the culinary limitations--no grains but corn, amaranth or quinoa, no cooking oils, no citrus fruits, no spice but chiles or allspice, no beef or pork or dairy products--there was some pretty good food. For instance, the grilled venison, the very rich "buffalo chip dip" (bean dip with Catalina Island buffalo meat and, naturally, corn chips), a dainty combination of wild rice with shrimp and pine nuts, and especially the heavily smoked salmon that had been intriguingly spiked with hot pepper.

Drinks were a different matter. "We have a kind of tunnel vision about the beverages," said one guest as he poured a nice Sauvignon Blanc. "Actually there was no wine in pre-Columbian America, but if we didn't have wine and beer, nobody'd come."

He was probably kidding.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|