As California's road trip season begins, it's time to pull out that list of foods that are worth a detour or two. If you're passing by or through tribal land, allow time in your day and space in your stomach for a stop at roadside stalls offering fry bread or, even better, Indian tacos. Many of us are all a-twitter about the mash-up of Korean bbq and tortillas. But this much quieter and long established blend of taco toppings on soft, still-hot flatbread is better than anything I've tasted from digitally hyped menus.
For the taco aficionados among you: Do not pepper me with hate comments about what constitutes a "real" taco. Take it up with the Indian Nations. For the politically minded, I acknowledge that the physical and cultural repercussions of making refined white flour a daily staple, is not something to celebrate, especially in communities stranded both literally and figuratively in the middle of vast food deserts. Like many foods we love, from latkes to lumpia, eating more isn't eating better.
But for those who are open to the culinary creativity of everyday folks, then this is food worth savoring. During your summer travels, look for stands located on busier strips near post offices, grocery stores or tribal councils. For the best fry breads, plan on arriving earlier in the day, as they will sell out. Peek around and see if there are cast iron pans at the ready. Each round of dough should be patted by hand and fried to order, and if it's your first time, order a plain one to enjoy fry bread at its humblest. If you like funnel cakes, doughnuts, angel wings, or those little bits of leftover pie dough that your mom fried up just for you, then you'll be right at home.