A friend of mine posted something on Instagram recently while she was eating at a New York style pizza spot in town and the gist of her caption was “made in America pizza, and proud to be an American.” It just struck me as so ironic.
I’m not an expert on politics, but I do know a bit about food. I know that most of the food that we enjoy in America is not necessarily “American” food, but Italian food, Chinese food, Thai food, Mexican food, Ethiopian food, Japanese food… you know. We have a melting pot of America to thank for that. The pizza spot that my friend was eating at might only be there because the owner’s grandparents decided to come here from Italy (might be stretch, but maybe not), or they learned how to make pizza from an Italian living in New York. Maybe none of that is true, but I can guarantee that an immigrant coming to American and opening a restaurant is not an unheard of occurance.
Where I live in Southern California, we have Mexicans to thank for the best food you can find around here. I can’t help but let the flavors permeate a lot of my recipes. I love to cook with cumin, chiles, and tomatillos and I sprinkle fresh cilantro on everything. The cotija cheese in this recipe is a salty, crumbly, drier than feta Mexican cheese that I’m obsessed with in tacos (shredded cheddar is a sin) and the pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds) are a common ingredient in Mexican food as well.
I know that immigration is a complicated topic and I’m not trying to simplify it to just different kinds of food. But what makes America so great is that we have all kinds of people from all different parts of the world bringing different things to the table (especially the food). I’m thankful that not every restaurant is a burger and fries spot. I hope that if you make this recipe, or literally any other recipe you can think about and appreciate the origins of the ingredients and the culture that we have to thank for them.
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
The Statue of Liberty- Ellis Island
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 3 cups butternut squash, skinned and in one inch cubes
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- pepitas, sliced jalapenos, lime wedges and cotija cheese to garnish
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat and add coconut oil. When pan is hot add butternut squash. Shake pan quickly and then let cook on one side for 2-3 mins.
- Add spices over the squash and shake pan to coat. Let cook another 2-3 mins shaking occasionally to keep from burning.
- Squash should have some browning on edges by this point. Put in oven to continue cooking about 10-15 mins until tender.
- Remove squash from oven. Add beans and garnish. Enjoy while hot in tortillas or in a rice bowl.