Saturday, January 22, 2011

#11 Bannock

If you know a Red person who doesn't like bannock - they're crazy. My friend Mo' doesn't like bannock but she likes fry bread, so really she's only half crazy.

First, where did the bannock we all know and love come from? There are two schools of thought on this.

1. Bannock came from Scottish (white) people. (I believe this one.)

2. Bannock, or a form of, was made by Red people prior to contact, from tree root flour. (In my experience tree roots are not very tasty.)

Let's all pretend you agree with me.

Bannock was invented and brought to Canada by the Scottish. It is a variety of quick flat breads and is a cousin of the scone (HEEEY CUZZIN!) Scottish Bannock, also known as Selkirk Bannock, is soft and spongey and made from wheat flour. WHO KNEW?? Apparently the honest and historically accurate folks over at Wikipedia knew this [rolls eyes.]

I like to say "Bannock: Invented by the Scottish, perfected by the Cree." I don't know if this is true but isn't it fun to say that? Give it a try. Now go tell a Scot. >) Mostly I think that the Cree just make everything better...babies for example, ours are cuter than most!

Bannock, much like bologna (and babies), can be made in many ways. Let's stick to bannock making though;
You can bake it, deep fry it in oil, fry it in a pan on a stove or over a fire or wrap it around a stick and cook it over an open fire to name the most common methods.

The recipes are just as plentiful.
The regular way- white flour, lard, baking powder and water.
The fancy way - throw in some raisins.
The really fancy way - raisins AND cinnamon!
The Cree-talian way - with garlic and oregano.
The health conscious way - with whole wheat flour and olive oil.
The Shepard's bannock [pie] - stuff it with mashed potatoes, peas and hamburger.
There's much more. But let's move on.

What about fry bread bannock you ask? (Or you may be asking what is fry bread bannock?)
It's bannock mixed without the lard, rolled out and cut into squares and then deep fried in oil. The Metis slapped claims to this, that's probably why Mo' is down with it, being half crazy Metis and all. The best way to eat fry bread is to make an "Indian Taco." You get a big peice of fry bread, then layer on chilli, cheese, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, salsa and sour cream (Uh yeah, it's just a regular taco on fry bread.)

Why do we like bannock?
Because it's easy! Flour, lard, baking powder, salt, water. Done.
It's portable and storable. You can mix all the dry ingredients (lard too) and store for 2-3. Just add water and voila, bannock!
It's versatile! You can add just about anything to it. Put some jam, butter or honey on top. Dip it in soup, stew or chilli. Make sandwiches. And as we've learned there are many ways to cook it.
It's cheap. Relatively speaking. It's cheaper than buying Wonder Bread (something else we like!)

Is bannock spiritual?
Now, I can't speak for the Wan-na-be tribe...maybe they have bannock gods, I dunno. But for me, my family, and every other Red person I've met, bannock is not anymore spiritual than any other food that we intake. So, cutting it with a knife is fine, if you like gummy ole bannock. But when it's fresh and hot, just rip off a hunk and dunk it in your tea.

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