New Portland Pop-Up Javelina Celebrates Previous and Current Native Delicacies
When folks speak about Indigenous meals in america, fry bread usually comes up. After the U.S. authorities compelled tribal members from their ancestral land and onto reservations, the displaced Navajo, also called the Diné, invented fry bread, a fried dough made out of issues like flour and powdered milk. Out of necessity, the dish used components from the meager and infrequently rancid rations dispersed by the U.S. authorities. Fry bread ultimately grew to become a staple inside a number of Indigenous populations all through america, usually tailored right into a taco-like dish with fillings like floor beef, onion, lettuce, cheddar, and chiles.
Chef Alexa Numkena-Anderson — who has familial ties to the Hopi, Cree, Yakama, and Skokomish tribes — grew up consuming fry bread along with her grandmother, devouring it in taco type at fundraisers and powwows. “Regardless that it has a really unhappy historical past, we took it again and made it a comforting factor,” she says. “It’s one thing I make once I’m feeling homesick, once I actually miss my grandma.”
When Numkena-Anderson moved to Portland — which occupies ancestral Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, and Molalla land — she discovered herself struggling to attach with different Indigenous folks. So now, virtually 10 years later, she has began her personal pop-up, Javelina, celebrating the eclectic delicacies of Indigenous populations all through the Americas — each by way of first meals, and the meals of latest Native communities all through the nation. The chef hosted her first Javelina pop-up this month at Northeast Portland restaurant Morchella, serving dishes she grew up with in addition to dishes beloved by her husband, who grew up within the Southwest. The preliminary menu included her grandmother’s potato soup, first meals like squash and huckleberries, Sonoran scorching canines, and fry bread burgers and tacos.
“I’ve needed to make meals of my tradition, as a result of it’s not likely current,” she says. “Particularly being in Portland, there’s an City Native inhabitants, however you don’t see it, you don’t hear about it very a lot, and I’m part of it. So I needed to symbolize my very own folks.”
Numkena-Anderson first began cooking for her siblings, because the oldest of seven. When she turned 18, she began working as a meals runner for Northern Quest Resort & On line casino in Airway Heights, Washington; she started cooking within the restaurant as a bluff. “The kitchen there, they took me underneath their wing, taught me issues by the window,” she says. “I used to be speaking smack, saying, ‘Yeah, I can hop on the road!’ So the chef known as me on it, and I placed on the chef’s jacket.” She ended up working a full shift; by the top, she fell in love.
Quickly afterward, Numkena-Anderson bounced by a number of Portland eating places, together with Vitaly Paley spots Headwaters and Imperial. She was on the opening group at Bullard, and labored as a sous chef at Radio Room. She spent probably the most time within the kitchen at Sammich, working side-by-side with proprietor Mel McMillan. “(Alexa) is a fucking stud,” McMillan says. “Portland could be so fortunate to find a way eat her meals.”
Whereas on parental depart — Numkena-Anderson had her first baby in September 2023 — she and her husband, Nicholas, began to construct a plan to make that occur. The couple had bounced round restaurant and pop-up concepts for years; all of the whereas, Alexa has hung out digging into Indigenous meals, impressed by folks like Sean Sherman of the Sioux Chef. “I used to be like, ‘Wow, okay, have a look at these Native folks right here doing this type of meals, I haven’t encountered folks doing this within the business,’” she says. “We deserve a platform as a lot as every other tradition.”
Versus specializing in wonderful eating and strictly pre-colonization meals, the Numkena-Andersons have fun the consolation meals born out of latest Indigenous populations, in addition to the bigger aspects of their childhoods. It’s partly the rationale the chef included her grandmother’s potato soup on the preliminary menu. “It’s not an costly factor to make,” she says. “I look again on the time serious about how we didn’t have a lot cash. The potato soup bought out actually quick, which felt good to me.”
The Sonoran scorching canine is a nod to Nicholas’s Arizona upbringing, in addition to Alexa’s father, who’s Mexican, and her personal Hopi heritage. The bacon-wrapped scorching canine comes with pico de gallo, chipotle lime mayo, mustard, pinto beans, cilantro, grilled onions, and cotija, all tucked inside a bolillo bun. At future pop-ups, she hopes to include extra Mexican dishes, issues like sopa de fideo or tamales.
Different dishes pull extra instantly from pre-colonial or first meals, notably these grown by Indigenous folks. The squash she served at her final pop-up, full of house-made chorizo and pickled huckleberries, got here from x̌ast sq̓it, or Good Rain Farm, based by Sinixt founder Michelle Week. For every new menu, Numkena-Anderson desires to incorporate extra particulars about particular Indigenous meals. Javelina’s first menu had details about the historical past of fry bread, however, sooner or later, she desires to discover issues like Chinook salmon or indigenous produce. “There isn’t a lot meals training that occurs for lots of the reservations … I actually needed to search it out,” she says. “And I’m nonetheless studying and studying about different tribes and their meals.”
In fact, she serves her household’s tackle fry bread at her pop-ups — as the inspiration for a burger with American cheese and grilled onions, and as a taco, topped with beef chili, tomatoes, lettuce, bitter cream, and cheddar cheese. Regardless that she’s solely hosted one pop-up, she already seems like she’s starting to realize her objective: connecting with different Indigenous folks in her group. At her current pop-up, a number of Diné guests praised her fry bread. “That’s a giant praise to listen to from one other Native individual,” she says.
“The exhausting factor about being a Metropolis Native or an City Native: You don’t discover lots of your folks; it makes you’re feeling type of lonely,” she says. “That is my approach of claiming, ‘Hey, I’m over right here, I’d love so that you can be a part of this as nicely.’”
Javelina’s subsequent pop-up shall be held from midday to five p.m. Sunday, November 19, at Morchella, 1315 NE Fremont Avenue.