Kathleen Rose Smith grew up in Healdsburg in the 1940s and ’50s, gathering and cooking the wild foods of her Bodega Miwuk and Dry Creek Pomo ancestors, from abalone and salmon to seaweed and wild strawberries.
An artist from early childhood, she graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1977. Through the years, she has worked as a park naturalist, art instructor and food columnist for News from Native California, a magazine published by Heyday Books of Berkeley.
Weaving family stories together with historic photos and original illustrations, she has now put together a small but compelling memoir, “Enough for All: Foods of My Dry Creek Pomo and Bodega Miwuk People” (Heyday Books, Berkeley).
Through recipes and foraging tips, Smith captures not only the Native American food traditions of Sonoma County’s past, but how they have evolved and survived into modern times.
“The thing that I wanted people to be aware of is that it’s really not necessary to get foods from other places, especially in this area of California,” said Smith, who lives in the greater Bay Area and still consumes the abalone, seaweed and the nutritious acorn mush of her ancestors.
The book taps into the food world’s current interest in foraging wild foods while touching on some of the plants that have been lost through the years, such as the native bunchgrasses that supplied pinole seeds for toasting, or the clover that grew wild in wetlands.
“Because of the way we do things, we’ve lost foods,” Smith said. “That was what I hoped to point out, in a subtle way.”
Beyond sustenance and survival, these wild foods represent a link between her people and the natural world that has sustained them through each season.
“My mother used to say ‘There’s food all around us,’” Smith said. “‘It was not just the people that are our relatives, but everything around us — the plants and the air. We need to be good to one another.”
“Enough for All” is available at Copperfield’s Books, the Point Reyes Bookstore and at heydaybooks.com.