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Frybread: An Act of Love

Frybread is a Native American comfort food, traditionally made for large family gatherings and ceremonies. Kayla Maulson, the owner of Frybread Love, started the food stand in April 2021 with the help of her family. Maulson’s mother, Lisa Sundberg, handles the food side of the business. 

Frybread Love makes their frybread with flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and water.

Lisa Sundberg and Kayla Maulson in Trinidad. | Photo by Chaela Gilman

“Traditionally when you think about it, you think of frybread being at powwows and big cultural events,” Maulson said. “Ceremonies are where we always make it. When we serve it at the dances its always with either soup or with salmon.” 

Maulson said that frybread is a product of the food resources that were given to Native Americans by the U.S government.

“It’s not really a happy food. It’s a food we were conditioned to like,” said Maulson. 

Frybread Love began vending in May 2021. Inspired by her Yurok and Lac de Flambeau roots, Maulson sought to turn her family frybread recipe into a business. Maulson said, “I talked to both my parents cause both my parents are entrepreneurs and they’ve created their own businesses.” 

“Mom always had me run farmers markets, but working at one was definitely a different vibe, for sure. But it was definitely something that Humboldt needed and it was fun.. it’s been fun. And it’s one of my favorite places to be working at,” Maulson said. 

Frybread dough in the process of being fried. | Photo by Frybread Love

Frybread Love’s menu includes Indian tacos, sausage and gravy, pulled pork and apple slaw, nutella, ‘berry rezzy,’ honey butter, cinnamon sugar and plain. The menu is flexible depending on the location they are present at.

The mastermind behind their frybread recipe, Sundberg was self taught when it came to learning how to make it. It was a process of trial and error. Sundberg had her first taste of frybread when she was just 11 years old in Washington D.C. at the American Indian Folk festival.

Often confused with flatbread, frybread is a different challenge altogether. With a complex science behind its forming process, frybread is dependent on a multitude of variables you often can’t control. 

“There’s a science breakdown to the whole thing of frybread in itself,” Sundberg said. “And how to create the gluten or how it reacts to different temperatures or different environments.”

Going on 30 plus years of making frybread, Sundberg feels that more than anything, taste matters.

“This is all you’ve got and you’ve gotta figure out what you’re gonna make out of it,” Sundberg said. 

Frybread Love is located nearly every weekend at the Arcata farmers market, as well as various other gigs posted on their Instagram @frybread.love.

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