Just one? As far as California foods, my first thoughts are avocados, oranges, grapes, raisins, almonds & dates. Avocados are a major favorite of mine. Hardly a day goes by that I don't eat at least one avocado.
Food historians generally agree avocados originated in Central America. There is much debate regarding the exact origin and subsequent dispersion of this fruit.
"The avocado (Persia americana) apparently originated in Central America, where it was cultivated as many as 7,000 years ago. It was grown some 5,000 years ago in Mexico and at the time of Christopher Columbus, had become a food as far south as Peru, where it is called palta. Legend has it that Hernando Cortes found avocados flourishing around what is now Mexico City in 1519. The English word "avocado" is derived from the Aztec ahuacatl, which the Spaniards passed along transliterated as aguacate."
---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume Two (p. 1725)
"The avocado tree, a member of the laurel family, is native to subtropical America, where it has been cultivated for over 7,000 years, as archaeological remains demonstrate. There are three original races of species. The Mexican type, which was called by the Aztecs ahuacatl...The Guatemalan type...and the West Indian type."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 43)
"We are also told that the avocado is a native of Peru...this is an error...caused because it was in Peru that the Spaniards found it first. But Pizarro entered Peru only in 1527, while the avocado had already been described in 1519 in the Suma de geografia of Margin Fernandex de Encisco, who discovered it near what is now Santa Marta, Colombia. We are told too that avocados were first cultivated in Peru during what is called the 'Formative Period' of Peruvian agriculture, which runs from 650AD to the beginning of our era...however, Garcilaco di la Vega...wrote more plausible that it was brought from Ecuador into the warm valleys near Cuzco by the Inca Tupac Yupanqui, who reigned in the fifteenth century AD..."
---Food, Waverly Root, [Smithmark:New York] 1980 (p.17-18)
Foods America Gave the World, (A Hyatt Verrill, page 168) concludes "We have the ancient pre-Incan races of Peru, the Mayas of Yucatan and Guatemala and the Aztecs of Mexico to thank for having given us this splendid fruit...Whether the pre-Incans, the Mayas or Aztecs were the first to see the possibilities in the development of the aguacate [avocado] will probably never be known, for the fruits are depicted on pottery and sculptures of all these immeasurably ancient races."
"The small, nearly spherical seeds of wild avocados are found in archaeolgical sites in Oazaca and the Tehucan valley of Mexico at dates of 8000 to 7000 B.C. They are seeds of the cold and drought-toleratant upland avocado...tree...By 6000 to 5000 B.C. they were being cultivated in Tehuacan, as shown by the increasing size of the fruit and the change in seed shape from the round wild type to egg-shaped. The two other races are the Guatemalan...and the misnamed West Indian race, which was not found in the West Indies until after the arrival of the Europeans."
---America's First Cuisines, Sophie D. Coe [University of Texas Press:Austin] 1994 (p. 44-5)
Reasons to Choose California Avocados:http://www.californiaavocad...
However, we can go back a bit in history for other foods.
Native Chumash foods:
"The early Spanish explorers were impressed by the Chumash craftsmanship...The finest objects made by the Chumash were of steatite. Its resistance to heat made it ideal for cooking receptacles. The pre- Spanish Chumash made no potter and all cooking was done in heavy steatite ollas and on comals (flat cooking stones, like skillets)... The most important single food source was the acorn, mainly from the California live oak...It was gathered in the fall and stored for year-round use. The shelled nuts were ground into meal and cooked as mush or in some form of cake. Pine nuts, especially of the pinon pine...were a favorite food. Islay, the wild cherry...was bruised in a morter and boiled. The cattail Typhia gave seeds and flour from the roots for making pinole, a gruel or paste. Berries, mushrooms, and cress were gathered in season to vary the diet. The Chumash prized the amole, or soap plant...The bulb was roasted and eaten, the green bulb furnished lather for washing...Berries of the California laurel...were roasted. The chia sage...produced a tiny oily seed that was made into flour or a very nutritious form of pinole. For hunting, the basic weapon was the bow and arrow...and with it the Chumash killed animals such as the California mule deer, coyote, and fox. Smaller animals were usually taken with snares and deadfalls. Flat, curved thowing sticks were used to kill rabbits...All game birds were regulalry harvested, particularly migratory ducks and geese on the lagoons. From canoes, the hunter pursued large marine mammals--seals, sea otters, and porpoises--and killed them with harpoons...Mollusks were an important food source." ---"Chumash," Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 8: California, Rovert F. Heiser editor [Smithsonian Institution: Washington DC] 1978 (p. 514-517)
I found the mention of chia sage interesting, I will have to research & see if it is the same as the chia seeds that the Incas & Mayans & Aztecs used. I use that type of chia seed almost daily.
And I found this interesting.
"An appreciation of the complexities of Indian culture is difficult, even for those studying it today. Many people still characterize traditional Indian life as 'primitive,' those emotionally sympathetic to it often extolling its supposed 'simplicity.' The reasons for thinking this way are obvious. To raise a crop of wheat a European farmer has to plow, sow, weed, irrigate, control pests, and harvest, all with specialized tools. The Indian...is seen gathering acorns from a oak tree...without apparent effort or advanced skill. Yet the use of acorn is anything but simple. It involves many hard-to-master and often elaborate technologies...In fact, if the entire process is measured carefully, it may take less work and certainly far less skill to create a loaf of wheat bread than a loaf of acorn bread."
---Life in a California Mission (p. 24-25)
CALIFORNIA MISSION COOKING & RECIPES:http://www.foodtimeline.org...
And back to the more present time:
CUISINE OF CALIFORNIA:http://www.mapsofworld.com/...https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...