Friday, September 28, 2012


Every Culture Has Its Kreplach

...and every state in every nation has a different name for fried dough. At least in one Utah diner, that name is "a plain scone." Just as red doughnut filling in a squirt bottle is called "with homemade raspberry jam."

Like most interpretations of fried dough, this one must be eaten within fourteen seconds before it begins to turn you into a Tommyknocker.

Now, let's all read a really cool piece in Smithsonian Magazine (big day for Smithsonian Magazine! you go, Smithsonian Magazine!) about whether frybread is awesome or evil.

80 Comments / Post A Comment

maybe partying will help

I have GOT to try out the southern-cuisine bar in my city, see if their hushpuppies are legit.


@maybe partying will help I was just coming down here to say how we should talk about how hush puppies are the best kind of fried bread. Someone from the south should send me some ASAP.

maybe partying will help


Churros are also great. A churro bar is a fine, fine thing.


@maybe partying will help They probably aren't. {she said, bitterly}
I have yet to find a hushpuppy in California that comes anywhere near legit or good. (And don't EVEN get me started on the state of biscuits in San Francisco. Or what passes for biscuits. Shameful, it is.)

maybe partying will help


Trust, I will have my snottiest taste buds on (hm, that sounds gross) because Cleveland, despite all the damn Confederate flags around here, is not in the South.

RK Fire

I've been doing the Whole Life Challenge and all forms of fried dough just got moved to my "What I will eat once this is over" list. Also, I've never had frybread, which I am starting to think is a travesty.


@RK Fire Best to start (and end) with a Navajo taco at a truckstop along the New Mexico/Arizona border. So good. So very, very good.

RK Fire

To do list: go to New Mexico, get Navajo taco.


@Justacaringal The Native American student group at my university used to do a frybread taco sale once a month and it was INVARIABLY on a day I had to be on the other side of campus all day. It is still one of my biggest regrets about my undergrad studies that I didn't ditch class even once to get a taco.


@bitchycrosstownexpress Obvs you did your undergrad studies by attending class, not getting high and playing Whist in the cafeteria. See what you missed? Now you need to take a road trip to the Southwest. Now I want a taco.


@RK Fire It is. It is a travesty.

That shit is amazing.

Also, frybread. No more evil than anyone else's heritage poverty now beloved nostalgia food. How come Native foods get special scrutiny in this area, Smithsonian? Hm? Maybe some You Can Never Do It Right syndrome?


@PistolPackinMama Thanks for calling that out; I noticed too. Blech.

Frybread is the best. I will stuff my face with it all damn day. Frybread and music and all kinds of gossip and kids underfoot = an excellent summer party.

(The beaver tails/elephant ears from Quebec are my second favorite fried bread item)


@PatatasBravas Yup. It's condescending white person guilt/do-good mashup chow chow. Want to address high rates of obesity/diabetes on Reservations/in native communities?

Eliminate poverty.

Frybread as a fairly frequent but not all that frequent sometimes-food is a hell of a lot less of a problem than the fact that dollar frozen cheese pizzas= affordable way to feed your kids. Frequently. Or that fresher healthier food choices are expensive and hard to get at rural IGAs.

But that's booooooring. That's, like, the same damn thing we hear over and over again. Poverty is really bad for your health. Food insecurity is really bad for your health. It's easier to blame Indians and their frybread than, say, address the real problems.

Also, word. Frybread, country music (or rap, depending on who gets their hands on the sound system) grannies, and as many small kiddos as you can muster running around= heaven at the end of summer. So very true.


where my poles at! paczki represent.


alternately, i guess, where my canadians at - beaver tails represent!

The Lady of Shalott


it is the best that way, no joke. It should be so hot it burns your mouth and steams while you are freezing and numb from the knees down and your face is alternately frozen from the wind and now BURNED inside your mouth-hole


@redheaded&crazie I've never heard of beaver tails (The pastry, that is. I mean, I'm familiar with the animal and it's appendage.) so I googled it and a) it looks amazing and b) the 2nd result on the page was this: http://watikalemon.com/canadianlemon/2011/05/21/this-first-sign-of-judgement-day-angry-beaver/
which is kind of amazing.


@redheaded&crazie Yes. Yes I have. And I cannot skate, so I fell flat on my stomach because I thrust my hands out to protect the beaver tail.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@redheaded&crazie Beaver tails!! It's been too long since I've had one. And to think that I was just in Old Montreal last week...

Nicole Cliffe

When I said: "this is the scone?" I felt like Lydia from "Breaking Bad" asking for "any kind of bergamot tea" at that diner with Mike.


That is a weird looking funnel cake.

fondue with cheddar

@whizz_dumb Funnel cake is my favorite fried bread because of the variety in texture. There are fluffy bits and there are crispy bits. Mmmm.

The best way to eat funnel cake is at the shore walking down the boardwalk while the ocean breeze blows the powdered sugar all over you.


After a quick glance-over of that list, krapfen is definitely at the top as far as names go. (Also, I got 3 krapfen for 5 euros at the train station when I was in Germany with my mom and they were delicious, so there's that.)


Pitza Frites! Though they are not quite as big and are best covered in powdered sugar.


@punkahontas PITZA FRITE! I haven't had them in years, my grandmother made them. Love. Aaand now I'm hungry.


@ellebean My parents make them for us on special occasions. The only problem is, your clothes, your hair, and the whole house smell for the rest of the day.

One time a stranger asked my Mom if she worked at Dunkin' Donuts!

I am dying for any kind of fried dough at this point, but I had to "settle" for a couple of chocolate chip cookies.


@punkahontas YES! They'll never be the same as at the Italian and Oyster festivals in my native Fairfield County, CT, so much so that my sister is obsessed with finding such a festival when she visits from TX next summer, JUST FOR PIZZA FRITE.


Also, as far as regional cuisines go, my friend and I decided that this is going to be The Fall and Winter of Dumplings for us, because we want to spent five miserable hours making dough and stuffing things in every language. So far we've done pierogi. What's next? Samosas?!


@frigwiggin Hang on. Let's go back to the pierogis. Say more?

(i.e. Any linkable recipes, sage advice, or tricks? The one attempt I was involved with were...sad. They were just sad dumplings.)

maybe partying will help




@frigwiggin Pasties! Gyoza! Empanadas! This is like my personal heaven, om nom nom nyom.


@frigwiggin: Did you see that link to alll the dumplings on the Awl yesterday? So hungry!


@frigwiggin Pelmeni? You can use Pillsbury biscuit dough, the biscuit slices are the right size.


@frigwiggin mandu! Manti! Chiburekki!

Lily Rowan

@area@twitter Right??? I have never met a meat-in-dough I didn't like.


@frigwiggin Although it looks like your post got eaten, I saw it and saved links accordingly. Thank you. And you get full marks for choosing pretty much the same fillings I grew up on. Nostalgia!

Sea Ermine

@frigwiggin more pierogis! and xiao long bao (I think that's what they're called? the dumplings with meat and also soup inside), gyoza (both fried and steamed)/mandu/potstickers, momo, ravioli, khinkali, knödel, manti, vareniki, and empanadas! I love any kind of dumpling type food. Also, I have the tastiest empanada recipe if you want it.


@Sea Ermine

Empanada recipe?! Why, yes, yes I do.

Sea Ermine

@frigwiggin Here is is! Also, it's super long because this recipe was written down the first time I made them by myself and so there are notes on modifications I've made to make them taste better/more like they're supposed to.

11/2 cups precooked yellow masarepa (I found that this was not enough, I'd either just use two cups or add 2tbs at a time as extra to the water until you reach the right consistency).
2 cups water
1tbs vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon sazon Goya with azafran
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups peeled and diced white potatoes (I would strongly recommend making smidge less or just leave a bit in the bowl unless you want an overwhelmingly potato-y empanada.)
1 chicken or vegetable bouillon tablet
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 chopped white onions
1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.4 cup chopped green onions
1 chopped garlic clove
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound ground pork and beef (I recommend beef that is 20% veal, it works really well)
1 cup leftover rice (if you don't have leftover rice just stick some rice in the fridge after its cooked to dry it out a bit, sort of like what people do for fried rice)

1. Cook the potatoes in a pot with water and the bouillon tablet for 20-25 minutes or until tender
2. While the potatoes are cooking place the masarepa in a large bowl. Add the sazon Goya and salt and stir to mix well. Add the water and oil and mix to form dough. Pat the dough into a ball and knead for 2 minutes or until smooth. Cover with plastic and set aside to rest for 20 minutes
3. While the dough is resting heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat stirring frequently, for 5 minutes
Add the tomatoes, green onions, garlic, cilantro, salt and black pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes.
4. Add the ground pork and beef. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, for 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture is fairly dry.
5. When the potatoes are done, drain and gently mash them. There should be some chunks, so it's not a paste.
6. Transfer the meat mixture and the rice to the mashed potatoes bowl and mix well to combine.
7. Break small portions of the dough, about 1.5 tbs each one, and form each portion into a ball by rolling between the palms of your hands
8. Place the balls of dough between two pieces of plastic (like, saran wrap) and roll each out very thinly to form a circle. Remove the top plastic and place 1 tbs of the filling in the center of each.
9. Then using the plastic underneath fold the dough over to enclose the filling, forming a half circle. Tightly seal the edges by crimping with the tines of a form (I skipped the crimping part and just used my plastic covered hands to mold it into a half moon like shape).

As a tip, never touch the empanada dough with your hands (while you are putting the filling and closing it up). It makes holes easily when it touches skin so I just made sure to always have a piece of plastic (like saran wrap) over your hands or on the part you're touching. If you get a hole take a small piece of dough and paste it on top with your finger and then cover it with plastic and sort of rub it in so it molds into the rest of the dough.

10. Fill a large pot with vegetable oil (I use peanut oil but I think canola oil and stuff like that probably works well too) and heat over medium heat to 360 Fahrenheit.
11. Carefully place 3 or 4 empanadas at a time in the heated oil (turn the temperature up right after you do this as it will go down when the empanadas go in, then when it gets high lower it back down to 360) and fry for about 2 minutes until golden on all sides.

As a tip, if you are worried about splashing hot oil all over your eyeballs (a fear of mine) when dropping them in, just place the empanada on a slotted spoon and lower it into the oil one at a time

12. Using a slotted spoon transfer the cooked empanadas to a plate lined with paper towels. Serve with ají on the side

Sea Ermine

@frigwiggin Oh and of course, the recipe for ají, to dip the empanadas in.


Ají pico (Ají pico is a green colored pepper, it might be called other things in other countries but make sure it's ají. How much you used depends on how spicy you like it, generally colombian food isn't super spicy but you do need some to balance out the other flavors. Maybe use one or two? You can probably find ají pico at a latin american grocery store in your neighborhood. Whatever you do don't substitute for jalapeño, I tried that once and it was hugely disappointing. I haven't tried it with habanero but maybe that could work.)
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice (this is too much. I'd start with half a tablespoon and then when you are all done taste it and add more bit by bit)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped scallions

1. Put the vinegar, water, and ají pico in a blender for 2 minutes
2. Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix. Add the vinegar and ají pico to the bowl and mix well. (I'd just do the whole thing in a food processor type thing if you have one, it's way quicker)
3. Pour in a glass jar and cover. Refrigerate up to 10 days.

Sea Ermine

@Sea Ermine Too late to edit but I know it says ground pork and beef and I wanted to clarify that if you can't find beef with veal (all in one) then just do beef. I didn't want to make it seem like you should take ground pork and ground beef and mix them together, that would not be good.


kreplach.... are boiled?

Nicole Cliffe

They are an unrelated foodstuff that exist everywhere in the world. I just like that saying.

RK Fire

Malasadas! Beignets! So many delicious things.

the roughest toughest frail

@RK Fire I miss Leonard's malasadas more than words can express.

RK Fire

@abetterfate: Same here! I'm not even really a sweets person but malasadas (and beignets, love you, Cafe du Monde) really hit a find balance of sweet and airy deliciousness.

Another item on my life's to do list is to introduce Leonard's malasadas to my husband. He's never been to Hawai'i before.

The Attic Wife

@RK Fire Love malasadas! Makes me want to hit up a Portuguese bakery right this second.

the roughest toughest frail

@RK Fire Whenever friends or family visited me when I was in Hawaii, I would greet them with a couple malasadas and a Spam musubi instead of a lei. Flowers wilt and die, but the memory of a lilikoi malasada stays with you forever.

RK Fire

@abetterfate: Ohhhhh god spam musubis!! <3 <3 <3




A kid in my dorm from Arizona made some of us fry bread one night in college. It was delicious. I've never had it before or since. I probably gained like 2 pounds just that one night though. I do have a very strong association of it with Sherman Alexie - interesting, if depressing, article.


Ohhhh shit. Thank you for linking this. Fry bread is mother-effing fraught. Until I was five, my family lived in Whiteriver, Arizona, on the Fort Apache res, where my parents worked at the IHS hospital. Eating fry bread/indian tacos at The Restaurant and at church comprise some of my most vivid memories of my childhood. Even then I had some idea of the crazy symbolism of it, I learned something of the oppression of it all. A priveleged white kid barely glancing against that history in the most oblique orbit. My best friend was Navajo (pastor's son) and I ate fry bread and played Pac Man on one of those cocktail cabinets at the casino, but the older I get the more I realize how little I understood and understand.

Also, if you're ever on the Navajo res, you should get navajo tacos, but you should really, really get the mutton stew, and even more so the mutton sandwiches. My lord.

I keep trying to make my own fry bread 20 years later, and it's always terrible.


@Probs I think it has to do with the altitude and dry air. You know, like how sourdough bread is the best in the San Francisco Bay area? On another note, props to your parents. I have so much respect for people who leave their privileged lives behind to help people who have so little through no fault of their own.

Also, when on the res (or anywhere), take time to have a conversation with the people you are doing business with. It's always interesting. It's a little New Mexico thing I learned when I moved here long ago, and it makes life a little happier. Who doesn't want more happy?


@Justacaringal Thank you! I also think my parents are very rad. I guess the thing about privilege, though, is you don't really leave it behind- unlike the Apaches, we were there by choice. And when it came time for me to go to school, we moved to Ruidoso so I could get a decent education- an option not available to almost anyone in Whiteriver.

Queen Elisatits

@Probs @Probs Was this during the 60s and 70s? Your parents probably knew my Grandma (a nurse), which is just crazy.


@Queen Elisatits Nope, the 80s and 90s. Still though, small world! Little connections like that are super cool. Great name and icon, by the way.


What would the Canadian equivalent be - beavertails?


@likethestore Beavertails or bannock, I would say.


I have never tried frybread but everything about it sounds amazing. I mean, taste/food-wise!


@Megano! There's a Fry Bread Dude who makes occasional appearances at a lesbian dive bar* near my boyfriend's house. The fry bread is awesome, though I can't speak as to it's authenticity and I've only ever had it after drinking more Tecate than is reasonable.
*Well, people call it a dive bar, but any bar with a burlesque night and dollar oyster happy hours can't be all that divey, can it?


All these people at my college from the New Jersey and DC areas didn't know what fried dough was! They kept being like "So wait, funnel cake?" I'm from Connecticut (so not very far away) and it was a staple at every fair/sometimes a school lunch. Only one friend knew what I meant, though she calls it frybread, being from Oklahoma.

polka dots vs stripes

@darklingplain NJ-ean here; I've totally heard of it but it's definitely superseded by funnel cake. Unfortunately.


@darklingplain I grew up in Northern VA, and we only got funnel cake a couple of times a year, during the county fair or when the carnival came to town. Now that I live in New England somehow it's easier to get fried dough elsewhere/at other times.

fondue with cheddar

@darklingplain I live in NJ, and the only time I've ever had frybread was at a local Native American festival. And it was glorious.

polka dots vs stripes

This appears to be the perfect place to ask - every Christmas my mom makes an Italian fried bread dough, which she calls "fig-e-saaata," which I obviously spelled phonetically.

1) Has anyone ever heard of this?!
2) How do you actually spell it?!
3) It's delicious and the best part of Christmas.

maybe partying will help

@polka dots vs stripes

Huh, the only Italian fried bread I am familiar with is zeppoli (sp?). Maybe it has another name too?


@polka dots vs stripes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiacchiere The spelling and pronunciation's all wrong here, but it's made in Italy (among other places), has a bunch of names, and seems to have a christmas connection in the US

polka dots vs stripes

@maybe partying will help zeppolis are great but these are not zeppoli's. she makes bread dough and then flattens it out and fries it in oil on the stove, so it looks more or less like the picture above. hmmm

@Probs not it :/ there's definitely no rum in my mom's recipe!

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@polka dots vs stripes That sounds delicious.
My family doesn't really do fried dough at Christmas, but we do zeppole in mid-March for St. Joseph's (which is a bigger deal in some parts of Italy than others.) We buy them, filled with custard or ricotta from the bakery, or we make our own, which we call "scripelle" and are just like long strips of dough, fried and sugared. AND THEY ARE BOTH DELICIOUS.

Queen Elisatits

On her request frybread and beans were served at my Grandma's post-funeral lunch. She wasn't Apache but she worked as a nurse in Whiteriver for over 20 years and friends she made (and kept) during that time agreed to make the frybread. It was a delicious and fitting tribute.
So I guess everyone should eat some frybread if they can get their hands on it?


Oh we have this too, only it's called Maori Fried Bread.


The sopapilla is the winner.


@Onymous ALSO DELICIOUS how dare you remind me of it when I cannot put it in my mouth :(


@PatatasBravas I am sometimes disappointed that New Mexico doesn't have a sort of all out culture war between sopapillas and frybread.

Although the ability to walk into a county fair and buy funnel cake, churros, frybread and sopapillas in one spot is pretty awesome.


mmm, frybread. The town grew up in has a couple festivals every year, and I remember always stopping by where the Snoqualmie tribe was selling salmon and frybread meals. (So frybread is intrinsically tied to filets of salmon in my mind)


want to try all of these. had "balkan doughnuts" once and want to cry with joy just thinking about it


Toutons, in Newfoundland. Forever linked in my mind with my grandmother, who made her own bread and often set aside a portion of the dough to fry up into toutons for us. Traditionally served with molasses, but butter or jam tastes fine too!

Kirsten Hey@facebook

Fried dough is NOT scones.


like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, buy high pr backlinks

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