by Holladay Allen
Native Foods Cafe
Cathy Liss is a long time Native Foodie and friend. She also runs the Organic Garden Project at Agua Caliente Elementary School in Coachella Valley. She is awesome. Here is the full interview from the In the Spotlight section of the Native Foods Newsletter.
Where are you from? Born in Los Angeles at the original Cedars of Lebanon Hospital
What is your sign? Aquarius, the water bearer. I loved SCUBA and oceanography in my youth.
If you were to come back as an animal what would you LIKE it to be? A bottle-nosed dolphin--- I really want to know the secrets of the deep ocean.
If you were to come back as an animal what do you THINK it would be? Possibly an owl...I enjoy the visual perspective and really take in my physical surroundings.
Do you have any pets? If so, what kind and what are their names? I have a senior rescue blind Schnauzer with three legs and diabetes—Fergus is the most loving, people-oriented animal. I also have an 11 year old rescue cat named Pete who is extremely mischievous, determined, and stubborn..!! I just found homes for my rosy boa and my tarantula. They’ve gone on to other lives.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why? Any smallcommunity with an ocean near by. I truly LOVE the desert and its flora and fauna, but I do miss the easy access of the ocean.
What is your favorite current menu item at Native Foods Café? Hard to choose...!! I love the wraps, bowls, quinoa, Native Cheese, Boogie Bars; I’ve taken classes and brought my two adult sons and my mother. We’re longtime fans from way back at M.T. Plate.
What is your favorite dessert? Key Lime Parfait (from the cookbook) and Boogie Bars (also in the cookbook!)
Fresh citrus from the garden!
What is your favorite part of working with the kids and the organic garden project at Agua Caliente? It is just soo amazing to watch kids explore the beds and discover how to dig for potatoes or carrots or green and purple beans. We rinse them and eat them on the spot. The preschool Headstart students picked fresh lettuces and radishes every day for over a month and made salad for their snacks. I watched how they move seedlings that were interspersed to locate radish shoots; then they gently moved soil to see how large the radishes were before they harvested. They were so talented at finding the big, ready ones....
What inspired you to become a teacher? I just always loved to learn, loved the challenge of discovery and watching how children absorbed knowledge and the thrill of mastery of some new skill.
What is your favorite thing about living in the desert? I am forever in awe of the desert flora---it’s complexity, stamina, and its brilliant, yet fleeting bloom. I also adore spiders, snakes, and birds so desert is the perfect environment for me.
What is your favorite vegetable? Eggplant, kale, okra.