Before she was dubbed “Champion Fry Bread Maker” at the Flowing Water Navajo Casino in New Mexico, Helen Moore, 70, was a postal worker, a teacher and worked from the Bureau of Indian Education. She was a bilingual teacher and worked seasonally at an agricultural products business.
Now her days are spent carefully crafting the traditional favorite in the most authentic of ways, as the Deseret News reports. She is one of two chefs that are on full-time fry bread duty at the new casino.
Moore learned the craft as a child and now will help Flowing Waters fill its more than 400 orders for the treat each day. She can measure the recipe by sight and knows just how well the fry bread goes with mutton stew, another favorite at the casino. It’s something she made for her sister and brothers, then taught her children the recipe so they could keep the tradition alive.
Moore holds this process close to her heart.
The process of making fry bread is deeper than clocking in for work every morning, however, Moore said.
“A lot of it is your mood,” she said while stretching a ball of dough in preparation of dropping it into the deep fryer. “If you’re angry or upset, the dough will not cooperate. If you come to work frustrated, the dough won’t come out good. It’s best if you’re in a good mood. The dough will be soft.”
Though working hand-in-hand to produce jobs and revenue in Hogback, casinos and fry bread share an unappetizing history.
The Navajo people began making fry bread when they were forced off their sacred land in the Four Corners in 1863 and were rationed government supplies of flour, salt, baking powder, lard and water.