Fry bread, associated with American Indian cuisine along with its relative, "the Indian taco," emerged in the twentieth century as a favored treat at Oklahoma fairs, powwows, festivals, and restaurants. According to many historians, American Indians, usually those connected with the Southwest, developed fry bread during the mid- to late-nineteenth century as the U.S. government began relocating and confining these peoples. Having to adapt to new sources of subsistence, many tribes learned to cook with traditional U.S. Army rations. Using the provided white wheat flour, Native cooks hand-flattened and deep-fried the dough into a distinctive, golden bread.
Fry bread has many variants. It can contain pumpkin or squash, be topped with fruits and sweets, or be covered with
bean, chili, onions, tomatoes, and cheese to create an Indian taco. Most cooks have their own unique recipe to make the simple
dish. In 1993 the American Indian Exposition in Anadarko hosted its first national fry bread contest. Fry bread in the form
of Indian tacos has long been a favorite at the State Fair of Oklahoma. Dan's Indian Tacos, originally an Oklahoma City restaurant,
gained a large following, selling from booths at regional fairs and art festivals. These foodstuffs remain a standard at powwows
and at the Red Earth Festival held in Oklahoma City.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Carolyn J. Niethammer, American Indian Cooking: Recipes from the Southwest (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999). Nicolette I. Teufel, "Nutrient-health Associations in the Historic and Contemporary Diets of Southwest Native Americans," Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine 6 (June 1996). Lawton (Oklahoma) Constitution, 17 August 1993.
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