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Cooking with the Kumeyaay

Morteros at Kumeyaay Village Site in the Blair Valley

Morteros at Kumeyaay Village Site in the Blair Valley

It’s maybe not what you or I would like to eat, but the Kumeyaay Indians of the Anza Borrego Desert managed to survive in a highly hostile environment eating roasted yucca leaves, cakes made with the flour of ground piñon pines, and whatever else they could concoct with the highly limited plant life of the area. The Blair Valley about four miles in from Highway S22 contains an unusual concentration of plant life (see photo below).

Kumeyaay women would find a rock to use as a mano (grindstone) and grind various edible cactus and juniper parts against rocks until depressions formed in them. These depressions (as shown above) were referred to as morteros. The Mortero Trail in the Blair Valley leads to a nicely sheltered “kitchen” area where there are numerous morteros and cupules (vertical morteros, probably for ceremonial purposes).

Lush Hillside in the Immediate Vicinity of the Kumeyaay Village Site

Lush Hillside in the Immediate Vicinity of the Kumeyaay Village Site

Sometimes I wonder what use the tribe made of the creosote bushes and cholla cacti that seem to predominate in the area, but my knowledge only goes so far. Suffice it to say that the Kumeyaay still survives as a tribe in several reservations in California and Mexico’s State of Baja California.

Martine did not like the trail very much, because the pamphlet describing sights along the way was incomplete due to vandalism or some other reason. I loved it and felt that the Kumeyaay village site was probably the most beautiful corner of the whole Anza Borrego desert region.

 

2 thoughts on “Cooking with the Kumeyaay

  1. Anza-Borrego is so lovely this time of year! Next time you pass this way, stop by to see us! Glad you both had fun. It’s a beautiful desert, really, I think the most beautiful I have ever seen.

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