Name of business: The Feasting Place by Norma and Hutch Naranjo
What they do: Host people from all over the world who want to learn about culture, traditional knowledge, and the sustainability of Pueblo life
How long they have been doing it: They have been in business for 22 years
Where they are located: On the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo (formerly the San Juan Pueblo) north of Santa Fe, at the confluence of the Rio Grande, Chama, and Ojo Caliente rivers
During Women’s History month, we celebrate the vital role women play in preserving the unique cultural legacies in New Mexico. We interviewed Norma Naranjo, founder of The Feasting Place and author of “The Four Sisters” cookbook to learn about her role in rebirthing native cultural traditions and sustaining them today.
Anee: What has inspired you to do this line of work?
Norma: Well for me it has always been my daily routine. Ever since I was a little girl we worked the fields, harvested. It was the way we were brought up.
Anee: How did you decide this is what you were going to do?
Norma: When I was in the Navy people would ask me where I was from, and I would say Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, and many people didn’t know that Pueblos existed. This project was a form of education, the world should know about our pueblos.
Anee: What did you do prior to founding The Feasting Place?
Norma: After the Navy I continued my higher education on the GI Bill, at the college of Santa Fe, graduating in 1976 with a degree in Social Work. I continued on to earn a Master’s in Social Work from Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1981. Over the course of my career I have worked with the US Public Health Corps, Indian Health Services, and Rural Health. I started my second Career “The Feasting Place” in 2000.
Anee: What can you tell me about the Horno ovens?
Norma: The Horno is an outdoor oven that the Pueblo people have used for centuries. It is made out of adobe and has a beehive shape. I remember my mom teaching me how to make dough in the evening and we would get up early to start the fire after chopping the wood. I remember the crackling sound of the cedar wood as the Horno was heating. It smelled good too.
Anee: Where do your guests come from?
Norma: From everywhere: international students, Australia, Africa, Canada, Mexico, Thailand, the US.
Anee: What season is your busiest as a family?
Norma: Fall – we are busiest. That is when we harvest, dry, and can for the whole year. Drying fruits and chile has been essential for our sustainability, our survival.
Anee: What do you hope guests take away from this experience?
Norma: We want customers to walk away with a unique experience, to learn more about the existence of Pueblo peoples, and to enjoy a traditional and sustainable culinary adventure.