Mike Madriaga 2:30 p.m., Sept. 19
What IS San Diego Food?
We're so caught up with food fashions from Europe, New York, Tokyo, whatever, but what about our food?
San Diegan food?
For a start, consider the humble oak tree. It's native to here, it produces thousands of tons of nutrition every year, and the only ones to benefit are squirrels and woodpeckers.
But talking with people out Warner Springs way and at the Campo reservation, I've been hearing all about how the acorn has almost perfect protein and used to be the staple here. You can take a little pack of squished acorn meat and walk all day on the energy.
Kumeyaay people used to leach the tannic acid found in acorns in streams, then they'd pound them, cook them, and turn the acorn meal into a perfect base for the rest of their diet. Yes, it was pretty tasteless, but then again, so are rice, wheat, and barley on their own.
That's when the light went on in my head. Here are millions of trees that are native to this environment, need no fertilizer, special care, and give us a food native to San Diego. How about San Diego acorn bread? Grow our own "wheat."
Heck, if I had any head for business, I'd be jumping in.
First I'd go to the Kumeyaay people, and ask them about it. It's their thing. They spent 12,000 years cultivating these groves to produce, until we, let's face it, stole it from them, 200 years ago.
But, all guilt aside, doesn't it make sense to learn from the people who understand this incredible resource best?
Then we can start taking outta town guests to eateries and say, "Want you to try this. This is our food."