Thursday, March 26, 2015

Vintage Fry Bread

Journal: (Fri.) Research begins at Pow Wow

Clay and I walked a mile to the Pow Wow grounds. A large truck loaded with rented portable toilets rolled past as we approached the parking area. It stopped and the tribe’s youth council, all seven teens of it, walked up to help unload and set up. 

Grand entry was slated to happen at five, plus or minus half an hour allowance for “Nob” time. Indian time, or Nob time as I called it, was measured according to approximate. In other words, things happen when they happen “there abouts”. Anyway, this gave me and my bud four hours to do whatever.

Following our whiffers, we made our way to the gaggin’ wagon for frybread tacos. I called all food vending trailers by that name. The smell of old deep fry oil hung heavy in the air no higher than our noses.

“Get yer wrinkled keester up here and let me put some meat on ya,” called out Maddy Hawk Legs, frybread champ of the Rez.

Clay, despite his fondness for her frybread tacos, wasn’t so friendly with Auntie after she ran him off one time for making a joke about her product. You could tease her but not the food. Seeing it was her wagon, he went to a nearby picnic table to wait.

Maddy, short for Madeline got her nickname for having the body shape of a real deal Ojibwe woman, meaning, very traditional as befitting ancestral conditioning to survive the elements. Legs, sinewy but tough, held up her strong and stocky trunk. 

A nice layer of pudge affectionately hugged her belly. At age 50-ish she was feisty and sharp. Hawk summed her up in the ability to spot good customers a long way off.

“Hey there Maddy, been a while!” I yelled from 20 yards out. “The bread done yet, I’m starving?”

“Migizi, that you? By gummie bears it is. Yah, 5 years exactly since you been back to the Rez.”

At the trailer window, I ordered 2 tacos and made small talk as her niece assembled the messy but scrumptious things.

“I hope you are using the vintage grease today, the stuff from maybe the last time I was here. Lends plenty to the flavor of the bread it does.”

“Watch it mister. You pickin’ on my bread or are you serious?”

“I’m serious. I think the older stuff gives depth and body to the taste, yes, in a good way.”

Clay rolled his eyes at me.

“Here’s your tacos, yours is free but not Clay’s. When I get the apology I’m owed I’ll be friendly again. Nice seein’ ya Migizi, how long you back for this time?”

“Ah, well, the calendar is blank. You know, like ancient days when time wasn’t.”

Clay, embarrassed at my effort to sound more traditional, shook his head while motioning for me to bring the food over.

“Good for you. Clock watchin’ is a good way to get the cancer ya know. Enjoy the Pow-Wow,” said Maddy Hawk Legs, her way of saying what we never say, good bye.

Clay and I sat in the shade of a big black ash tree while eating. I couldn’t help but wonder what might happen when his last pill wore off.

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