Thursday, June 9, 2011

Four Corners and Frybread

Phew! The movers came on Tuesday and I've been opening boxes non-stop ever since. Now that Matt and I are finally in our new place, I'm hoping I can get back into some sort of rhythm with posting on the blog and, of course, bring back more recipes!!! There's still some unfinished business, however, from our months on the road and today's unfinished business takes the form of some delicious Navajo frybread that we picked up on our way back east after our stay in Las Vegas.

I've tasted a few varieties of frybread in my time, but nothing as authentic as the stuff we picked up during our visit to Four Corners Monument.  The Monument marks the point where four state lines, those of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona, all intersect. Located in the middle of nowhere, this quadripoint has become a huge tourist attraction. Naturally, we couldn't resist joining a line to take pictures at the intersection and even adopting the obligatory contortionist's pose with a limb in each state.

In addition to the actual monument, which tells the story of the state lines and showcases each state's seal, there's a marketplace where visitors can purchase traditional native crafts (the Hopi, Ute, Navajo and Zuni tribes all have some jurisdiction and presence in this area) and taste foods both traditional (my frybread) and not-so-traditional (Matt's Navajo Burger - a burger wrapped in a frybread 'bun').

There were a few frybread stands, but Matt and I chose one in a trailer a little distance from the marketplace, hoping its more remote location would somehow make our experience a little less touristy and more authentic. Whether or not this was the case, my frybread was delicious, freshly prepared in the back of the trailer while we waited. We consumed our lunch on a bench in the sun, listening to the chatter of Navajo radio station (it's no surprise this language was used as a secret code during WWII - it's like nothing I've ever heard!).

I elected to keep my frybread simple, covering it in a dusting of cinnamon and sugar. Matt chose the Navajo burger - a juicy slab of beef and some veggies sandwiched into the fold of an enlarged frybread. Both were fresh, hot and so very light. I was amazed at how filling these light, airy breads turned out to be - definitely a good road trip food.

The bread we tasted at Four Corners was nothing like the other kinds I've tried - the texture was much more open, full of air pockets and puffed dough.  Maybe it's the recipe or just practiced technique, but if anyone knows the secret to light, puffy frybread, I'd love to hear it!

For a fascinating post on the history of Navajo frybread, check out this post at What's Cooking America.

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