Our friends at the Twin Buttes Powwow last weekend were very excited to serve us fresh fry bread made by a relative named Rhonda. She seems to be well known as one of the best fry bread makers around the MHA Nation on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
Fry bread, for those who don’t know, is a dough made with flour and lard or fat and then fried in oil. It was developed by Native Americans as a substitute for their traditional foods after they were relocated to areas that wouldn’t support the growing of their traditional crops of corn and beans. It is a bread of poverty and hunger, and was first made from US Government commodities doled out to the tribes. Despite its painful history, it is a favorite of many Native Americans, and considered a real treat. I have eaten my fill of fry bread over the years, and Rhonda’s was excellent, light and puffy and chewy, with a hint of sweetness and not too oily.
For years, Rhonda has jealously guarded her recipe and refused to let anyone know her fry bread secret. Last month at a Sundance at Pine Ridge she was there with other family members preparing food for the Sundance participants, got a migraine and, for some reason, started sharing her recipe with all sorts of people, except not with family and tribal members who have always wanted it! My, were they miffed!
What food is essential to your family gatherings? What food do you have trouble understanding why people bother to eat? Have you or someone you knew tried to keep a recipe a secret?