Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story
by Kevin Noble Maillard ill by Juana Martinez-Neal
This is a story of bread. But it's more than bread. Much more. This is a story of family. Of tradition. Of Native American pride.
Kevin Noble Maillard, member of Seminole Nation, Mekusukey Band shares a long-standing Indigenous special food: fry bread. Recipes for fry bread are as diverse as the numerous Native nations.
The sentence stem "Fry bread is..." introduces this delightful cultural staple. By turns it is food, shape, sound, color. flavor, time, history, place, nation, everything. Written in free verse, each concept fills the entire two-page spread. Replete with information and symbolism, each fry bread attribute is also a metaphor for Native Americans.
We come together
Making Fry Bread
Fry Bread brings back warm memories. When I was a college freshman, one of my roommates, Norma, was a Navajo from Arizona. She was very proud of her nationality and delighted in sharing Navajo culture with her roommates. She loved to sing, but not the hit songs playing on the radio. She sang traditional Navajo songs, with distinctive tonal patterns, and language. In my mind, I can still hear her singing. She was gentle and patient with us, helping us appreciate the Navajo Way.
I tried to replicate Norma’s recipe. I’m sure that this isn’t exactly the same, but my family appreciated my efforts. They liked them sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. As I shared my memories of Norma, I realized that this experience with fry bread was a celebration of rich culture. It’s true. Fry Bread is more than bread.
But it brings diverse Indigenous communities together through a shared culinary and cultural experience.
That's the beauty of fry bread.