Louis Fowler’s Pandemic Journal: Frybread Power

This past weekend, as usual, were a terrible couple of days for the country: the government successfully blocked citizens married to immigrants from receiving stimulus checks, Indigenous peoples have been consistently kept out of Coronavirus data and, in Oklahoma City, white supremacists left their anti-Asian mark on area stop signs.

Usually, when things became a bit overwhelming, there was always someplace for me to gather my senses and enjoy a handmade Native meal, calling on my familial spirits for the will and power to weather these dark days. But, of course, that’s not available right now, with organizations like the Oklahoma City Pow Wow Club and the Choctaw Tribal Alliance currently out of commission due to Covid.

So, for the first time in a couple of years, I decided to make one of favorites, frybread, to varying degrees of success.

With a decent helping of Bluebird Flour—the best flour for making frybread I’ve been told many times—using my clean hands and a bit of warm water, I lovingly massaged the white powder into a pliable-enough bowl full of semi-sticky dough, with a bit of baking powder and salt thrown in, all from my fading memory.

Covering the future frybread with a paper towel, using grass-fed ground beef—there might be a run on it soon, you know—I browned the meat in a cast-iron skillet with some black beans and my most recent spice obsession, Goya’s Sazonador Total. Adding a scoop of lard to the leftover oil, I started to fry the bread.

Now I’ll be painfully honest: I could never do up frybread the way my father, my Grandma Mabel or any of those blessed ladies at Indigenous get-togethers can, but I think I did okay. Sure, they were smaller than usual and definitely a bit flatter, but being in quarantine, you have to make due sometimes. At least I do.

Topping the frybread with the meat and cheese, sour cream and pico de gallo, as well as thick cuts of avocados and tomatoes on the side, it definitely satiated that lard-laden desire I’ve had for, at the very least, one evening of Indian Tacos. I savored every bite, mostly because I wasn’t sure when I was going to get another one.

Like most people during this time, I’ve been cooking my meals far more lately—some good, some bad. In the past, I would have just microwaved a Lean Cuisine on the days that I wasn’t reviewing a restaurant, but recently, I’ve discovered when I cook my food, waiting for it to slowly take form, I tend to value my eats at home so much more.

I hope this is a newly found habit that carries on with me when this virus is over; there are so many new habits—good habits—that I hope carry over. But, now I have to ask myself: how long until I get lazy again?

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In case you’re keeping track, as of this weekend, Oklahoma has had over 3,100 cases of Coronavirus, with 670—the most—coming from Oklahoma County. Of this, 27 people have died—you know, call me what you will, but I believe that even one death is too many.

When society mourns the loss of an economy over the loss of even one human life, then you know that we’ve failed. Thanks for selling us out, Holt.

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Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.