Tag Archives: Shehechiyanu

Navajo Tacos, Fry Bread, Challah and the Shehechiyanu

26 Mar

Part of the learning that we experienced on our trip to the Hopi and Navajo reservations was eating some of the typical foods, focusing on fry bread, corn mush and hominy, Navajo Tacos and a beef/lamb stew.

I realized that the only bread I was going to find on the reservations was fry bread.  Made of just a few ingredients, the important part of fry bread is that it is fried, traditionally in lard, but when we had it, fried in either olive oil or Crisco.  We were fortunate in that we experienced food prepared by family members of our guides.

The first meal was prepared by our native Hopi guide’s (Raymond) wife.  She made corn hominy, which took hours to prepare, fry bread, and a pepper, as well as a bean and beef mixture that you eat on the fry bread.  After the meal his wife explained how she cooked it, about the four colors/types of corn: blue, red, yellow and white.  It was important that we understand that anyone who shows up at their home is always welcome to join the meal.

Our second home cook meal was made by Azalia’s, (our Navajo guide) mother and aunt.  This included Navajo tacos, which is fry bread, beans and meat mixture, lettuce and tomatoes.  They also had a soup/stew and blue corn mush (sort of looks like cream of wheat).

The best part about this meal, is that they showed us how to make fry bread and several people attempted to make it.  While some tried to make it, I took photos.  I learned that fry bread is made sort of like a little pizza.  The dough is thrown and formed.   Then instead of baking, it is fried.  Before you put the circle of dough in the pan, you have to wait for the oil/Crisco to be steaming.  As the fry bread cooks, it bubbles up.  Then as it turns a bit golden brown, it is ready to come out.  At this point I found the way I like to eat fry bread, dip it in honey. Or pour honey over the bread.  Delicious.  It sort of reminded me of a Louisiana, New Orleans beignet.

I have to admit, we had a small Jewish moment over fry bread.  One of my newly made friends was so excited about her completion of the fry bread, that I told her we needed to make a blessing.  Since she is also Jewish, I thought a Shehechiyanu, the blessing over doing something for the first time would be appropriate. Five of us stood together and blessed her accomplishment.  It made sense, as the Navajo and Hopi are very spiritual people.

The other exciting part is that our guide’s mother gave some of us some blue corn kernels to take home and plant!  I am hoping it will grow in Kansas.

It interesting to see was how she fit so many people into their home.  This is a common occurrence in their culture, where everyone is invited to special events, and like the Hopi, anyone who shows up is feed!.  They took boards and covered them with white paper, and put on stools.  We used that as a small table.  It worked great!

I enjoyed the educational component of the Road Scholar journey.  Often, I am telling others about my cultural foods, especially the ones that we make during Passover like charosets.  Having meals made by experienced members of the Hopi and Navajo tribes was so special to me, that they took the time to give us this experience.  It was a joy to be a part of this group.

However, I will admit, that by the time I got home, I was happy to have a piece of my culture’s favorite carbohydrate, a slice of challah.