Food and nurturing on Taos Pueblo: A photo diary
Hornos, mica bean pots and names that speak to a rich heritage
Just as for any community, feasting is a serious business for the Taos Pueblo people, who have lived in this part of New Mexico in traditional adobe houses for a thousand years.
Their food preparation also features adobe structures. The horno is a large domed adobe oven. As a travel company offering Pueblo tours and an “immersive insider (baking) experience” (complete with lunch and a loaf) puts it, hornos are “heated arched doorways to yeasty goodness and while they can be used to roast meats or cook stews, they are often used to make baked goods including bread”.
Ariana, the Red Willow Creek woman who gave us a tour of Taos Pueblo, said each of these hornos holds an armload and a half of cedar wood. On community feast days, she recalled, the two hornos together turn out 30 loaves of bread and 15lbs of pies and cookies.
The micaceous pot thrown by a local potter on Taos Pueblo is pricey at several hundred dollars but they are meant to be a lifelong purchase. A utilitarian type of pottery made in pueblos in the American southwest, micaceous pottery is unpainted and the mica in the clay makes it strong and durable that heats evenly and stays warm longer. In Finding Casey, Jo-Ann Mapson’s novel set in Santa Fe, not far from Taos Pueblo, newly married Glory Vigil makes considerable effort to find her husband the right micaceous pot.
Finally, the Dawn Butterfly Café on the Taos Pueblo, which uses propane to keep the lights on and mobile wifi for card payment. The café owners proudly inform visitors of their traditional names, Water Crow and Red Coral Flower.