On moving to Los Angeles, I knew it would be a metropolis sprawling with many great places to eat. However, among all the great cuisines that can be found in LA, I was saddened to discover my favorite cuisine was non-existent in this food hub. I’m Native American and I was shocked to hear that LA, a city that has the highest Native population outside of reservations, had no place to get Native food. Unfortunately, to get the best Native American cuisine you will probably have to travel out of Los Angeles or be fortunate enough to have a Native American friend. My own experience with Native food is limited to Southwestern Puebloan cuisine as I am Acoma Puebloan, so I have little knowledge about cuisine from other Native cultures. In this article, I would like to introduce you to the most common Native treat that also happens to be one of my personal favorites.

One of the most popular, if not the most popular, Native American food is called frybread. What is this frybread? Frybread is a flat dough bread that is typically fried in vegetable oil and is made from very simple ingredients. Frybread is a very flexible food in how it can be served as it is similar to a sopapilla or funnel cake. It can be served as a side bread when eating a spicy Red or Green Chili Stew, as a dessert topped with cinnamon sugar or honey, or be used to make an Indian Taco. To make an Indian Taco a large piece of frybread is covered with ground beef, beans, and various vegetables creating a mountain of flavor. I have always associated frybread with family because whenever my mom told me she would be making frybread I knew it would mean a visit to family. When my mom would begin cooking the frybread I would be standing right beside her, with a bottle of honey in hand, waiting for the first piece to cook so I could snatch it up.

Though many tribes argue about the origin of frybread, there is no questioning its delicious taste. According to the Navajo, they are the supposed creators of frybread. The Navajo claim that when they lived off government-supplied food such as white flour, sugar, yeast, and lard they cooked frybread as a means to survive. However, many other Southwestern tribes such as the various Pueblo tribes of New Mexico claim to have served frybread well before the Navajo. The origin of frybread may very well come from Pueblo tribes due to their relationship with the Spanish. The sopapilla, another type of fried bread originating from Spain, is commonly served at the end of many New Mexican dishes. The Spanish have plenty of history with the Pueblo tribes, and although most of it is not peaceful their relationship with the Pueblo people influenced several aspects of Pueblo Indian culture. Many Pueblo foods contain ingredients introduced by the Spanish and the frybread may have been the Pueblo people’s interpretation of the sopapilla. Regardless of how the frybread came into being it has since become a staple in the Native American community.

frybread with stuff

Just as there are many different ways to enjoy frybread there are many ways different Native American tribes prefer their frybread. For example, in the Navajo Nation they usually prefer to make their frybread thin and crispy while most of the Pueblo tribes in New Mexico, like the tribe I am from, prefer their frybread smaller and thicker. Frybread is one of the most common Native American foods and is part of nearly every Native American culture. For myself and many other Native Americans frybread is comfort food that reminds you of home and the memories of spending time with family. If you ever find yourself attending an event such as a Pow Wow or on a Native American reservation it will be easy to get your hands on this delicious treat from Native America. If you want to try making this delicious treat for yourself down below is a video with recipe and guide on how to make Frybread.

How to make Frybread

- Dylan Lowden - 


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