Dinner Table Talks create the opportunity for families to have important conversations centered around books. These discussions will build our capacity for talking about race and define our roles in fighting against both every day and systemic racism.
Inspired by his family, author Kevin Noble Maillard writes about the love a family has for each other and how the food they make, in this case fry bread, brings them even closer together. This Sibert Award-winning picture book beautifully and poetically celebrates how this seemingly simple Native American food staple is so much more. The food itself and the process of making it is a representation of what unites family and their culture. "Fry bread is food....Fry bread is time....Fry bread is nation....Fry bread is us."
Author Kevin Noble Maillard discusses the origins of his book Fry Bread and reads it aloud.
Guidelines for Discussion
Be open and honest--even when it's hard.
Understand your own prejudice and bias.
Embrace other cultures or races by reading books, watching movies and going to community events.
Celebrate yourself and your own cultural identity.
Don't shy away from conversations about race. Talking is how you build capacity for anti-racism.
Acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them.
It's okay not to know the answer. Look for it together.
Fry bread is made from simple ingredients. Why do you think Native or Indigenous people chose these ingredients for this recipe?
Why do you think American Indian Residential Schoolsexisted? Why did the teachers change their students' names and make them learn English? Why were they punished for speaking their own language?**
Text your zip code or your city and state (separated by a comma) to (907) 312-5085 and Native Land will respond with the names of the Native lands that correspond to that region. Do these tribes still exist? Does your family know anyone that is Native or Indigenous from these tribes?
*For more information, read Encounter by Brittany Luby.
**For more information about the American Indian Residential school, read I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Stolen Words by Melanie Florence.
Make Kevin's Fry Bread at Home
1 pint boiling water
1 cup cornmeal
1-1/2 cups cold water
½ oz. of dry or instant yeast, approximately 2 packages
1 cup raw sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
3-1/2 cups flour
32 oz. unrefined coconut oil
Bring 1 pint of water to a boil in a medium pot. Add cornmeal to boiling water. Whip slowly until smooth. Reduce heat to medium, add cold water, and cook until thick. Stir continuously to prevent lumps in the mixture. Remove from heat and let cool in pot.
In a large bowl, add yeast, sugar, and salt to the cooled cornmeal, along with small sprinkles of water to moisten the mixture. Gradually ad flour, using a metal whisk or potato masher to get rid of lumps. Sprinkle water to keep dough moist but thick. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 3 hours.
Once the dough has risen, it should be springy and sticky. Heat the coconut oil in an iron skillet to medium temperature. Test the heat by dropping a small portion of dough into the oil. It should gently sizzle but not splatter. Use two large oiled spoons to make golf ball-sized portions and dip immediately into the oil, submerging the entire ball. Re-oil the spoons in the skillet to make new balls of dough. Leave room in skillet, as the balls will expand in the hot oil.
Let dough fry until it cooks to your desired color: light golden or dark brown – about 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip balls over to cook the other side. Remove from oil and transfer to a paper towel-lined bowl, separating each level with a new paper towel. Eat while hot.
Want to continue the conversation? Need more resources about race?
Take a look at the following booklists about the immigrant and refugee experience: