Area food vendors spice up dining options
Cheyenne River Eats…part one in a series on local food and dining
Photos and story by Tasiyagnunpa Livermont
At first glace, Eagle Butte may not seem to boast many culinary delights, but never judge a community by its fast food store fronts. A lively community of food vendors shapes the city’s dining landscape, using Facebook, road signs and word of mouth to let the community know about their dishes.
Many vendors offer delicious spins on familiar foods like Indian Tacos or pans of desserts like caramel rolls or pies. However, one of the better known area food vendors brings the taste of the Philippines to Eagle Butte.
One of two area Asian cuisine vendors and both Filipino, Maria Olson hopes her food is both palatable to Americans and yet is better defined as Filipino than the more general Asian cuisine Americans are often used to.
One way she has done this is to substitute Midwest favorites like beef, instead of pork or seafood in items like her spring rolls, Olson said.
After completing her teacher’s training in the Philippines, Olson said she found herself looking for work in Hong Kong. A familiar story to any young rural person, the Philippines didn’t have many job opportunities, so Olson left for China, with her sisters, to work as a domestic employee in a home in Hong Kong. A friend of hers there introduced Olson to an Internet friend of hers–Chad Olson of Eagle Butte. After more than a year of courting and Chad’s first visit to the Philippines, he made another trip, this time returning with Maria to the United State, and the couple were married the next day in Eagle Butte.
Family continues to be the focus of Maria’s work. Her cuisine is a way of spending time with her daughter, and her mother and sister have often helped during special events she vends at, planning their visits from the Philippines during things like the CRST Labor Day Fair and Powwow.
Olson credits Four Bands in Eagle Butte with much of her entrepreneurial success and says that she makes a point of attending any of the classes they offer.
While uncomfortable with taking on debt, Olson hopes to someday open a permanent location in the future for pick-up orders and a small seating area somewhere in Eagle Butte.
When asked where she likes to eat out at in the area, Olson mentioned that this past Father’s Day, she treated husband Chad to a dinner at Bob’s Steakhouse. Her own favorite foods are the more traditional vegetables and fish common to her homeland, and she enjoys getting fresh veggies from the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s farm stand during the summer.