Anthony Umrani is a CNN Senior Photojournalist based in Washington, D.C. He previously wrote about the menu at the National Museum of the American Indian.
February is Black History Month. February is also National Pie Month. What could one possibly have to do with the other, you might ask? Meet the bean pie - a sweet, delectable dessert made from navy beans.
The bean pie is a creation born out of the strict dietary code of the Nation of Islam, a religious black nationalist and social reform movement formed in the 1930s, led by Elijah Muhammad. In his book, "How To Eat To Live," Muhammad outlined a rather detailed and sometimes peculiar set of guidelines for eating, presumably designed to improve health and prolong life.
In accordance with Islamic law, pork was prohibited, but there was a list of other banned foods that could not be explained by any Islamic jurisprudence. Foods such as spinach, sweet potatoes and lima beans, which many nutritionists would agree are good healthy foods, were not allowed.
Along the museum-flanked National Mall in Washington, D.C., food choices are limited but one of the newer Smithsonian attractions has set out to offer its visitors a unique and healthy dining experience. Inside the National Museum of the American Indian there’s a café where patrons can experience a taste of native indigenous cuisine from the western hemisphere. Mitsitam Café serves up a fusion of traditional, natural ingredients in a new-world style.
Patrons can choose from an extensive food list, including salmon roasted on a cedar plank, snapping turtle soup, tree honey white rice, beef tongue tacos and buffalo chili on fry bread.