I did a Google search on "Choctaw Fry Bread" and received 13,500 hits. In other words, there's about as many recipes for Choctaw Fry Bread as there are Choctaws. And the recipes aren't tribe-specificfill in the blank "______ Fry Bread" with what ever tribe you want, and there's recipes out there.|
Years ago I came across a mention of Indian fry bread while reading an old ethnography for an anthropology class. It mentioned Indians carrying chunks of fried bread strung on a cord over their shoulders. The chunks had holes in them to accommodate the cord. The garments of early Indians contained no pockets, so they carried stuff in pouches or on strings around their necks or shoulders.
A couple of years ago I mentioned fry bread to a couple of my card-carrying Choctaw friends. Both remembered the "old people" making it and making it with holes in the centers. Neither, however, knew the reason for the holes.
The reason is obvious to me. In anthropology, that's known as the "etic" or outsider view point of a cultural trait. The insider view point is called "emic," in case you're interested in trivia. Anyway, the holes make it easy to carry the fried bread chunks on a journeyearly trail food, in other words.
Normally, food left in my refrigerator here in high humidity Louisiana starts getting moldy in about two weeks. In six weeks it's covered with mold. (I'm single, ok?) Every couple of weeks I'd take the bag out and check the bread. It was always ok.
Then hurricane Rita knocked out my electricity for a week. Everything in my refrigerator ruined. However, the fry bread looked as good as new. I could have eaten it but didn't due to the big zip bag sitting beside a little zip bag of very moldy
I recently made another batch and documented the process. My version is a variation of recipes you'll find on the Internet but with honey added. The Indians would have added berries and nuts. Next batch, I'm adding dried cranberries, which I like.
In this recipe we basically make biscuits with water instead of milk. Then we add a donut hole and deep-fat fry them instead of baking them. I carefully measured all the ingredients used and the amount of oil absorbed. Below you'll find a table comparing them to other trail/survival foods.
Dissolve the honey in the warm water. Using two tablespoons of honey, the resulting chunks of fried bread will have a very slight taste of honey. Add more honey if you want.
Combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix. Add flour or water if you need to. Add sugar if you want. Add berries and nuts if you want. I'm betting fresh blackberries would make a great addition.
Dump the mix on a floured cloth, etc., and tear off biscuit-size chunks. Then use a finger and poke holes in their middles. You should end up with 8 to 10 donut-like chunks of fry bread.
Drop the chunks in hot oil and start frying.
Turn them occasionally so they fry evenly.
I ended up with the 8 chunks of fry bread you see here.
They are tied to a leather lace and hanging from my shoulder.
(I wore my Sunday best for this photo session.)
Here's a close-up.
The texture is not like a biscuit at all. The crust is pliable and semi-tough with a cake-like interior. I could tote the remaining chunks of fry bread in the woods for several days without one breaking and falling off the cord. Yet they're not too tough to eat.
All in all, they make a dandy trail or survival food.
Update 6-04-08: I made a batch using fresh blackberries straight from the river bottom. I followed the recipe as listed above, but I added one cup of crushed blackberries, juice included. I also added a little more honey as I like the taste.
For some fool reason, I made these much bigger than previous batches. I wanted eight and got only six. Previous batches averaged 2.3 oz each and this batch averaged 3.7 oz each. One chunk of this bread would make a meal for a small person.
Y'all, this batch of blackberry flavored Choctaw fry bread was unbelievably delicious!
From left to right, we see some of my favorite trail foods. (Only thing missing is a boiled yard egg.)
In computing the table below I used a price of $0.00 for lard, because that's what mine cost me. Vegetable oil was based on a cost of $2.00 for a 48 oz jug. On average, each piece of fry bread absorbed exactly 1 fluid oz of cooking fluid.
Food for thought as well as the trail, huh? You be the judge as to which is best. Me, I think Choctaw Fry Bread is aheadin cost for sure! Taste, too.
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