It’s been about five months since Oklahoma was diagnosed with Covid-19 and, almost as traumatic, it’s been even longer since I’ve had an Indian Taco that I didn’t personally make myself. While mine are merely okay, I’ve desperately missed the homespun camaraderie and homemade frybread from the various Indigenous fundraisers around town.
Glory be, aiming for a safe and secure drive-through situation, the Oklahoma City Pow Wow Club took over the Church of the Open Arms, 3131 N. Penn Ave., on Saturday to make sure this culinary culture of edible godliness wasn’t going to be forgotten in this emerging (and re-emerging) era of viral infection.
It was unbearably hot that day. The sun’s harsh beams reflected off the pavement, giving me a slight burn on my skin. But that radiating heat was worth it, because, if only for one day, Indian Tacos were back in town and back in my stomach.
As a homeless guy spun a handmade sign near the street—“Sorry, I don’t smoke…” I told him when he asked to bum a cigarette—I made my way past the slight handful of parked cars, full of families either impatiently waiting or masking up, all about to place their much-needed orders of comfort eats for the long weekend.
There was supposed to be a craft sale too, but there was only one table bravely selling jewelry outside; a small klatch gathered around her handmade goods as people, too tired to haggle, typically gave her what she was looking for. As much as I valued her Indigenous hustle, there was nothing there for me today. Maybe next time.
Entering the solemn doors of this UCC church—one that had a welcoming Pride flag on its frontage that let patrons know “all people” were welcomed here—I stood off to the side, waiting my turn at a socially responsible distance, as random kids were running various Indian Tacos and Pow Wow Burgers out to cars waiting with the air conditioners on, probably at full blast.
Sitting at the table, a man with sweat beading down his head asked me what I wanted today; I let him know that I’m looking for a couple of Indian Tacos. Within seconds, he had two Styrofoam containers delivered to the table, fresh from the fryer and filed with some good culinary medicine, even if they weren’t doing drinks and a dessert this go ’round.
Seven dollars times two paid in full, I took my cartons and covered them in a crisp plastic bag from an area fast-food joint as more white boxes were stacked on the table, orders to go out immediately.
My facial protection down on my chin for the ride home, the scent of good meat and proud bread tore through the holes on my face (and possibly neck), giving me a prophetic idea of what was coming in a couple of minutes; made by the crack team of elders and their young helping hands, as the church faded behind me, I was so thankful to have this food.
Achieving a comfortable enough spot for mid-afternoon noshing, I used the faux-silverware included and cut right into that pillowed frybread, its heat competing with the sidewalk outside. Bringing the fork to my lips, I gently savored each golden sliver of the blessed bread, knowing full well that could be the last Indian Taco fundraiser for a while.
God, I hope not.