Feasting on a traditional Hopi meal rated as one of the highlights of my agricultural tour in the Hopi Lands of northeastern Arizona. Micah Loma’ omvaya, a most knowledgeable guide with Hopi Tours (who also happens to be an anthropologist) arranged a home-made luncheon for my group.
The indigenous Hopi have been farming the dry arid land of the Southwest for centuries- a nearly impossible task in a region that gets less than six and half inches of annual rain. They grow sixteen varieties of corn along with beans, sunflowers, wheat, chilies and melons. Our authentic meal included typical dishes prepared from the harvest.
To better understand the Hopi culture, the day began with a drive to the First Mesa–home of historic Walpi Village which has been continuously inhabited for more than 1100 years. The old settlement on top of a 300 foot mesa has no electricity or running water, but exquisite panoramic views that extend for miles.
Afterward we visited the Hopi Cultural Center in the Second Mesa, a must for anyone interested in this region. By lunch time stopped into the home of Iva Honyestewa. The unmistakable aroma of fresh yeast bread filled the air, certainly a precursor of wonderful things to come. The table was laden with Iva’s hand prepared Hopi dishes.
I started with Somibiki, blue corn tamales with semi-sweet fillings that were so scrumptious I had to have two.
The entree was Nogkwici– a white corn and lamb stew with a nutty crunch. We also ate a vegetarian stew of baked sweet corn. Both of these dishes were very filling.
Accompanying side dishes included Paadufsuki– beans and roasted green chili peppers.
Native blue corn Piki bread, a rare treat, was served and enjoyed by all (see my previous blog post on this painstaking recipe). The thinly layered staple melts in the mouth much like a communion wafer.
We also met Iva’s husband, who carves Kachina dolls- replica’s of the spirits who visit various Hopi festivals held through the year.
If You Go
The Moenkopi Legacy Inn and Suites, the first motel to be built on Hopi tribal land in 50 years, makes an ideal spot to start a day tour. The hotel near Tuba City is dedicated to helping visitors learn more about the Hopi Culture and connect tourists with guides.