Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Festivals of Baltimore: Baltimore Powwow

I had a lot of work to do for work this weekend, but I found a few hours to stop by Patterson Park for the Baltimore Powwow, held by the Baltimore American Indian Center. I went thinking I would just buy some frybread and that's it. I got that and so much more.

I didn't buy any stuff per se. Oh, I wanted to. My God, I wanted to! Everything from beautifully crafted Native American crafts to dream catcher-shaped crapola to witty red, white and blue bumper stickers such as "My heroes kill cowboys" with a line drawing of a Native American man were all just whispering "Buuuuy meeeee!" Sadly, I only had enough money for food. Actually, I wanted to save my money, though the food cost so much that I just couldn't get out with much, if at all.

Before I headed over to the dance space, I started scoping out the food booths. The BAIC booth didn't seem to be selling fry bread, though it was selling fish, Indian tacos (okay, those are made of fry bread; I should have asked) and hush puppies.

Said hush puppies

I ordered a bowl of the latter for $3. They were not very crunchy, so I was dissatisfied at first. But they really grew on me: very soft and light and not too oily at all. Lots of them for only $3. Very tasty, even cute (cherry tomato-sized). I polished them off while watching the dance competition, starting with the fancy shawl youth competitors, then the traditional youths and the very adorable tiny tots. One man, who was probably going to compete in a later dance since he was all decked out to do so, went into the dance space, holding a drum mallet in his infant son's hand while the two of them beat a small drum. All the while a drum circle kept going in the background. I stayed to watch one more dance, this one an invitation to all competitors, young and old, male and female, into the space. It was very cool to watch, very powerful and beautiful, and so much fun to watch. But the best part, of course, was that the dancers seemed to enjoy the competition perhaps more than we in the audience did.

But my search for food drove me back towards the Pulaski Monument and the shops and stands nearby. My next stop was next to the BAIC booth, a truck with the seemingly derogatory but quite clever name of the Frybread Queen, who (I think) came from Andrews AFB. Their food was a wee bit pricier, and their proceeds didn't all go to the BAIC. They had fry bread alright, with cinnamon & sugar for $4. Their Indian taco was similarly priced, for $8. But instead, I got the "man burger": 1/2 lb of buffalo, with tomato, chopped onion, shredded lettuce and shredded cheese, in a piece of fry bread.

It'samaaaaaaaaaaanburger! Withamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanlemonade!

It was OK, but you can't really taste the fry bread too much. That and the buffalo wasn't as juicy as I'm used to. Plus, the meat was hidden under all this shredded lettuce and raw onion and tomato. No sauces on the fry bread or the buffalo burger. After all those hush puppies I could hardly even start it, much less finish it. Still, I'd take this over a burger almost any day. It's still sitting in my fridge, waiting to be finished. Maybe it'll be lunch tomorrow. Not saying I didn't like it. But there was already so much in my fridge already that I had to finish first. So lunch, finally.

Other photos -
Cree proverb on the side, er, back of the Frybread Queen truck. Again, that's the name of the business.

I have never seen this innovative contraption at an outdoor summer festival before this one. It sprays a fine mist of water up in front of a simple floor fan, which then blows the water at you. It felt so good that I stood in front of this one for a while, until the next person came by to use it.

This is what it did to my camera for the next few minutes.


I am so wise said...

"My heroes kill cowboys"? Well, at least people are starting to shed the myth of the peaceful, ecologically minded Indian and recognize that Native Americans could be just as savage, polluting, and evil as the white man. It seems history education has improved.

John said...

On the contrary, it seems history education needs some serious improvement. I seriously doubt that bumper sticker was advocating killing anybody. Instead, it seems to me that, since American Indians are usually the ones killed in the movies, and since throughout US history it's usually been okay - even celebrated - to kill Indians, that their heroes are the ones on the other side fighting off the ones killing them. Not savage at all. To be upset about a bumper sticker like this strikes me as a tad bit PC.

gretchen said...

Nice festival review!

John said...