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THE INSIDER

“I love being creative in the kitchen. One of my favorite things to do is to find new ways to use Indigenous ingredients.” Alana Yazzie “The Fancy Navajo” (Food Blogger & Foodie) Alana Yazzie (Diné) is a fashion, food, and lifestyle blogger in Phoenix, Arizona that took Instagram and the blogosphere by storm with her airy, light, and fancy blog and IG profile, The Fancy Navajo. Alana created TheFancyNavajo.com as a lifestyle and food blog that follows her life as a contemporary Diné woman living in the city. Through her social media platforms and her blog, she shares recipes, fashion, and travels, all with a “fancy” Navajo twist. “My goal with The Fancy Navajo is to inspire others to embrace their culture no matter where they live,” Alana explains. “It is also a platform I can express my creativity and share my colorful world with others.” What makes Alana stand out is how often she includes and features Diné-infused dishes on her blog and Instagram, such as her popular blue corn mush recipes; not only does this present a little bit of her culture to the world, but this also teaches other Diné people who may not have grown up immersed in the culture to make heirloom recipes. Why did you decide to start a blog? What made you choose to include foods and recipes? I started my blog in 2014, and it came about because people wanted more in-depth recipes and information. At the time, Instagram was not like how it is now. There were caption limits, Instagram stories didn’t exist, and you could only share one picture. I needed a platform to share things on a larger scale, so I created TheFancyNavajo.com. When I started my blog, I knew I wanted to take a Lifestyle and Food blogger route because it offered more flexibility on what I could share. There were also not a lot of Native American lifestyle and food bloggers at the time. So, it was a niche community with food and recipes being the most popular content on TheFancyNavajo.com. What is the story behind your blog’s name, The Fancy Navajo? It came about from my Instagram community. I didn’t start as The Fancy Navajo and had a generic username at the beginning of 2014. However, I noticed I was gaining a large Native following, and people would comment on how “fancy” my photos were especially when I would post anything

related to Diné culture. At first, I didn’t understand why it was considered “fancy” because I was just me, and Navajo blue corn mush with gold cutlery and a vase of fresh flowers were normal. It hadn’t been seen before, and my community wanted to be fancy Navajo’s too, so thus began The Fancy Navajo. What is your favorite Diné-infused dish so far? My blue corn recipes are some of my favorite and are the most popular. One of the first recipes I shared on TheFancyNavajo.com was Fancy Navajo Blue Corn Cupcakes in 2014, and it’s one of my favorites because it has been made and shared so many times throughout the years. It’s a simple baked good that can be easily made at home and incorporates blue corn in a fun way. I always get excited when someone shares their Fancy Navajo creations, and it’s like I am baking along with them. What are your cooking inspirations? A famous chef, your mom, a cookbook, a blog? My biggest inspiration is my family. I grew up in a family where we were always connected by food. Some of my favorite memories are cooking with my mom, baking with my older brother, and waking up to my grandma’s cooking. I just love how it brings people together, and I want to emulate all those feelings and share that with everyone. Through The Fancy Navajo, people often share they didn’t grow up learning how to cook certain native recipes, and that also inspires me to share recipes. It’s never too late to learn a family recipe.

techniques, and cultural food preparations you know that you apply to your cooking today? I love being creative in the kitchen. One of my favorite things to do is to find new ways to use Indigenous ingredients. I like to call these “Fancy Navajo twists.” Some of my favorite recipes are Fancy Navajo Blue Corn Quiche and Fancy Navajo Boba Almond Milk Tea. You share a lot of traditional and heirloom recipes that you grew up with. How does this showcase your Native heritage to your readers? My community gets excited when they see one of their favorite Indigenous foods with a Fancy Navajo twist. Often, we don’t see Native food as being “fancy,” but it’s some of the fanciest foods I know. As a foodie, do you have an appreciation for Indigenous cuisine? Yes! It’s some of my favorite food. I love learning and trying new Indigenous cuisines. Thanks to social media, I have connected to say many Indigenous chefs and producers. There are so many ingredients and foods that I want to try! Visit Alana’s blog at thefancynavajo.com.

Traditional & Tasty Food blogger and known as The Fancy Navajo, Alana with her most popular one of the first recipes she shared on her blog, Fancy Navajo Blue Corn Cupcakes, which has been made and shared so many times throughout the years. (Photo: Jennifer Hubbell)

How do you incorporate ancestral knowledge through modern techniques in your cooking? Why is this important? Through The Fancy Navajo, I want to inspire others to think of ways to elevate or modify a recipe and be respectful to its origins and teachings. Some of the recipes I share, I learned how to make from my mom and grandma, which include traditional Navajo cooking utensils like stirring sticks and grinding stones. Not many people may have access to these tools, but I encourage my community to make the recipe still using what they have. I am still learning about my own Diné culture, and through my community, we are always learning something new together. What are some of the creativity, cooking

@thefancynavajo NATIVE MAX MAGAZINE | 21

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