It's probably been 10 years now since I wrote the chapter on really wild wild rice in Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating. But this all-American food has been on my mind and my table a lot again of late, in part because I've been dialoguing regularly about all things Ojibwe with Meg Noori, a poet and one of the leaders in transcribing, teaching, and making alive the language of the Ojibwe Native Americans. Meg teaches it at the U and you can check out more on the language work at www.ojibwe.net (email me and I'll fill you in on my covert campaign to make Michigan the "Aanii State"). It's also on my mind because of Jim Northrup's appearance at the annual Native American foodways dinner at the Roadhouse last month. I quoted him extensively in the Guide to Good Eating, and having heard him speak last month, I'd encourage everyone to get hold of his book Rez Road Follies. Understanding the role that really wild wild rice plays in the traditional Ojibwe world is, I think, a pretty important part of appreciating it to its fullest.
Really wild wild rice in its complete context is compelling to me at most every level. There's so much to say about it, I feel like I could write a whole book chapter on it. Oh yeah, I did. Given the shorter spaces I've supplied myself (I could go longer but this is already probably too long) I'll share a couple key points about what makes this totally traditional food of our region so special. To just to begin the process of increasing clarity right from the start, take note, if you didn't already know it, that really wild wild rice is actually an aquatic grass, not rice. You can chalk the English name up to confusion from the early European settlers here—they thought it looked like rice so that's the name it got. Confusion remains the norm even now, hundreds of years later.