From Indigenous Food at Café Ohlone By Anna Mindess | Photos by Cynthia Matzger


The Ohlone value abalone shells for their aesthetic and spiritual qualities. This shell holds essential foods: acorns, the staple food of the Ohlone, and a chunk of crystallized salt, collected from the bay shore.


“Our name for pinole in Chochenyo is muyyen,” says Vincent Medina. “It’s one of the first foods we’ve worked to learn about. A mixture of native seeds—chia, redmaid, amaranth, tarweed, etc.—it’s loved by our people in those old days, and that continues now that our food is revived.”

Medina describes how they make modern-day pinole seed cakes with toasted chia and popped amaranth seeds, cooking the seeds until their natural oils come out, and then covering them in honey they have reduced by boiling away most of the water content.

“We roll them into cakes shaped as described in old documentation from the 1930s in Louis’ Rumsen area. I love to eat these cakes. They taste like sweet brittle with an essence of burnt popcorn. The only reason I don’t make them more is because they burn my hands often!”