When two Cultures Come Together-Sister #3


Spending time on Isla Mujeres every winter, I have tried to learning about the history of her people and of course their food. Years ago I took a cooking class in Puerto Morelos.

The chef taught us what foods are indigenous to Mexico like corn, beans, squash, turkey, and chocolate, and what foods were introduced through colonization. It was fascinating to learn how the people incorporated these new foods, that are now staples of the cuisine, such as rice, wheat, chicken, beef, pork, and herbs and spices like cinnamon and cilantro. Of course there is much more to colonization than the introduction of new foods.

Last year I had the opportunity to go to the Mayan World Museum in Merida to learn more about the tragic history of how the Spanish tried to erase the Mayan people and culture. 

The story is similar in my home country of Canada. The Scottish, English, and French tricked the indigenous people into surrendering their land and later tried to destroy their culture all together. 

At first, relationship was a beneficial partnership. With the two cultures coming together the Métis nation was born. My mother’s family is Métis. A mix of indigenous and European blood. Like the Mayans, the Métis too took the food that was brought by the colonizers and incorporated it into the cuisine. 

Today, February 19th is Louis Riel Day in my home province of Manitoba. Riel was a strong (and a bit crazy) Métis leader who helped create our province. So I thought I would celebrate him and Métis history by making some fry bread while I’m down in here in Mexico.

Fry bread is a version of Bannock, a staple of Métis cuisine. A play on the British scone, it became popular because the ingredients traveled well and it could be made over a camp fire. Fry bread is a decent fried version of bannock. I apologize in advance if you become obsessed with this bread. Here’s the recipe. 

Fry bread

1 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk 

1/4 cup sugar 

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add in milk and mix using a rubber spatula. Turn out dough onto floured surface. Sprinkle more flour on top and knead five to six times. Form into ball, return to bowl and refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Mix together sugar and cinnamon for topping. 

When dough is ready, heat in inch of oil in a cast iron frypan to 350 degrees. Roll out dough, I just use my hands, into a 1/4 inch thick circle. Cut dough into four portions. Take each portion and ensure it is consistent thickness. Cut a small hole in the middle of each portion. This will help the bread stay flat while frying. When oil is ready, cook one piece at a time for approximately 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Be sure to place in the dough away from you to avoid splashing oil. Remove from oil and while still hot sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve hot. 

Kath’s quote: “We are Métis.  We are neither First Nations nor Inuit, nor are we European immigrants to this land. Instead, we are the middle-ground between camps; the compromise between differences and the dawn that separates night and day. We are not half-breeds, but the children born of a marriage between two very different worlds…. To be Métis is to be blessed with the best fruit of not one, but two family trees. We are not “half” of anything, but doubled. Being twice blessed, we are likewise proud, strong and determined.”

-Terry St. Amant

Love never fails.

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