Gallery: Making piki bread with the Native​ American Hopi tribe of Arizona

Piki bread is a newspaper-like roll of wafer-thin flaking pastry, which tastes like unsalted corn chips. Despite its misleading name, piki bread has the texture of a flying saucer sweet and tastes nothing like bread as we know it.

Made from finely ground corn, water and ash, piki bread is the traditional ceremonial food of the Hopi tribe – a sovereign Native American nation located in northeastern Arizona. It is still used in a range of Hopi ceremonies – from weddings to baby namings. Sadly, it’s a skill that’s diminishing.

Artist and jeweller, Iva Honyestewa, recently invited TLE into her home to see the intricate art of piki-making first-hand. Traditionally, Hopi Tribe members don’t like people taking photographs as they were once forced to pose by soldiers against their will.

However, Iva, whose husband is a doll carver and son is an aspiring artist, was happy for us to take pictures. Below is a gallery of Iva preparing piki on a hot stone.

The technique for making piki bread has been passed down from generations. It is usually made by the women in the tribe and takes around four hours. Iva began learning at 10-years-old and only mastered the skill 15 years ago (she’s now in her mid 50s).
Iva mixes the piki mix. The blue colour comes from ash added to the pancake-like mixture.
Iva uses lamb brains to grease the stone in order to stop the piki mix from sticking, before spreading a thin layer of batter.
The stone in which piki is cooked on would traditionally be passed on through generations, although piki-making is a skill that is on the decline within the community.
The piki stone sits above a hot fire and the temperature is gauged by Iva’s own intuition gained from year’s worth of experience making piki.
Iva checks the piki bread. Typically, the first one goes into the fire as a blessing to ask the fire to help finish the batter. The thinner the bread, the better.
Iva laughs as she asks us not to film the piki she’s just made – as she’s not happy with it. Each piki bread maker tends to have their own piki house.
The finished piki bread is a neatly rolled. It is usually dipped into soups and stews, but can be eaten as a snack.

Fact Box

For information about Hopi arts and crafts visit: www.HopiArtsTrail.com

Adam was a guest of Visit Arizona. For more information about Arizona visit: https://www.visitarizona.com

Flights British Airways flies direct to Phoenix from £747 return.|

The Iskasokpu Gallery is around a four-hour drive from Phoenix airport.

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