Phyllis Shaw from Aunties Chumus Indian Tacos cleans salmon (springs) she purchased in order to give away the eggs, or roe, for upsqwii. Shaw and her family operated a popular concession at the Alberni District Fall Fair Sept. 10–12, 2021, that featured a five-pound Indian Taco-eating contest. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Phyllis Shaw from Aunties Chumus Indian Tacos cleans salmon (springs) she purchased in order to give away the eggs, or roe, for upsqwii. Shaw and her family operated a popular concession at the Alberni District Fall Fair Sept. 10–12, 2021, that featured a five-pound Indian Taco-eating contest. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Tacos with an Indigenous twist drew crowds to Alberni District Fall Fair

Phyllis Shaw and family hope to open a pop-up takeout spot, dream of food truck

Phyllis Shaw loves to feed people. But the woman from Nitinat had no idea how popular her cooking was until the Alberni District Fall Fair Sept. 10–12.

Shaw and her family operated Aunties Chumus concession at the Fall Fair. Chumus is a Nuu-chah-nulth word meaning “treats” or “candy” and is often used to describe dessert following a meal.

Aunties Chumus Indian Taco challenge was a popular affair at the fair: they offered $100 plus a refund to anyone who could eat a five-pound taco in 20 minutes and keep it down. One person was able to finish in 18 minutes; another in 16. Indian Tacos are made with fried bread instead of tortillas, usually have all the traditional taco toppings such as ground beef, cheese, salsa and sour cream. Aunties Chumus tacos were large enough they needed to be eaten with a fork and knife.

The booth also offered Upsqwii, which is dried salmon.

Shaw said she would one day like to operate a food truck; numerous people who enjoyed her food at the Fall Fair have urged her to open a food truck. Her Fall Fair booth sold out two days in a row, the food was so popular.

“This was my first time I did something that big,” Shaw said one afternoon after the fair, as she was cleaning and filleting springs at the Clutesi Haven Marina fish cleaning station. She had purchased the springs so she could smoke the fish and distribute it among the elders in her community.

The roe (fish eggs) was a hot commodity on this particular afternoon, as someone came by and asked if she was selling any. She gifted the person a bag and said the rest would go to elders or anyone who wanted it.

While a food truck may not be in her immediate future, Shaw said she would like to hold a pop-up takeout event so she can bring her Indian Tacos to the public. “That’s in the works.”



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

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The Indian Tacos that Aunties Chumus had at the Alberni District Fall Fair were made with fried bread instead of tortillas. This five-pound version was made for the Indian Taco Challenge eating contest. The concession booth was busy all weekend during the September fair. (PHOTO COURTESY ASHLEY SHAW)

The Indian Tacos that Aunties Chumus had at the Alberni District Fall Fair were made with fried bread instead of tortillas. This five-pound version was made for the Indian Taco Challenge eating contest. The concession booth was busy all weekend during the September fair. (PHOTO COURTESY ASHLEY SHAW)