Fry Bread

About Dish

For many years while traveling the Southwest, we assumed that fry bread was some sort of Fred Harveyish knock-off of fried dough or perhaps an outsized sopaipilla or simply something made by contemporary Navajo cooks to appeal to Americans’ taste for just about anything fried in plenty of fat. We were wrong. It is no exaggeration to say that fry bread is to Navajos what matzoh is to Jews – a simple dish with profound meaning that arises from the harsh tribulations of ancestors. When the U.S. Army rounded up Navajos after they surrendered to Kit Carson in 1864, the captives were marched 300 miles through winter snows to Bosque Redondo, near Fort Sumner along the Pecos River in New Mexico. Many starved on what is now known as The Long Walk, and many more died due to harsh conditions on the reservation. The meager supplies issued by their captors included lard, flour, baking powder and powdered milk; and from these they learned to make fry bread – broad discs of dough that puff up in hot oil and are delicious plain or as a partner for a bowl of chili or  sugared for dessert. Fry bread serves as the foundation layer of what is known as a Navajo taco, heaped with all the ingredients that normally would be stuffed into a corn or wheat tortilla.

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Fry Bread
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