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The Meat Pie Before Christmas: An Indigenous Tale of Bravery, Valor, and Spiced Meat

9:20 AM EST on December 20, 2023

The Frybread Taco, in all of its great majesty and innate glory, has stood the test of time as a cultural time capsule and proof of our culinary existence.

As a people, we have formally taken in this piece of small-time rations on the Trail of Tears and – whether served down and dirty at a roadside stand or little league fundraiser, or polished and proper at an Indigenous restaurant or Casino kitchen – turned it into the number one Native meal of all time; a form of tasty freedom, with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people of all types standing in line and drooling for one tasty bite of the sacred host, usually with a tall glass of knock-off Kool-Aid in the summertime.

In other words, it's the classic indigenous cuisine, especially if you've never had the ever-elusive Meat Pie.

Like the somewhat shady, slightly pock-marked big brother that comes around every Thanksgiving or Christmas, the rarely-seen meat pie is that holy grail of Indigenous delicacy.

The only places where they're regularly found are in the snack bars of moderately independent convenience stores and, even then, they're a manufactured take on other food.

But I finally found one…by God I found one!

Last weekend, I went to the Native women-owned organization We The People’s Yuletide Indigenous Holiday Market, located at 228 SW 25th, in search of gifts that are not video games for my nephew, specifically ones that are more Indigenously appropriate. Each one, teach one.

As I walked through the door, a sign read that frybread tacos and meat pies would be made available as soon as possible. As soon as I saw it, all of my shopping plans were abbreviated and delayed, and I took my place in the long-stretching queue.

With only one deep-fat fryer at their disposal, it was going to be a long afternoon.

A team of three or four women were in the back of a makeshift kitchen with their cooking gear on, bracing for hot oil and cooling bread, the many toils of cooking this stuff up. But they were there and they were strong, keeping the hungry customers in line while getting the orders straight and correct.

I was in line for about forty-five minutes, but I had to stay noble and polite. Directly behind me, Lane Factor of Reservation Dogs was waiting patiently.

At any other place, I would have sacrificed my spot in line as a sign of thanks for his great work on the show. But in these situations, you just don’t know if you are going to get the meat pie or risk losing out to a sudden oil shortage, so all starstruck chivalry was lost.

As I arrived at the finish line, they were keeping up with orders and frying up some new batches of bread. After another 15 minutes of extraneous waiting, I finally got my order: a Frybread Taco for my girlfriend – her first and only experience was an awful version at the Affair of the Heart, and that had to be rectified— and a real, honest to goodness meat pie for me.

Here's my simple three-word review – It was incredible.

The exacting blend of rotund spices, firm potatoes, and, of course, the greasiest meat, created a new flavor sensation that entered my soul for the very first time. Experiencing new colors, smells, and sounds, I now know why this is the rarest, most profound, and all-time greatest treat in not only the Indigenous world, but the entire fucking world!

That may sound like deep, impossible praise, but it's the truth. And so, with my meat pie in my belly, I can now truly say “Bless us, every one of us…but, maybe this year, the Indigenous folks should be taken to the front of the line!”

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

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