What do you think of when you hear the words, “Country Food”?
Do you think of mashed potatoes? Hot turkey sandwiches? Fresh vegetables from the garden? Hmmm…sounds good. Well, if you had any image of a hot meal you’re definitely not from here! In Nunavut, Country Food refers to their traditional way of eating. So, what kind of food is traditional Inuit food?
I do not have all the Inuktitut terms down quite yet…but overall it consists of Seal, Caribou, Fish (Char being the most common), Goose, Walrus and Whale. They eat all parts of the animal, prepared (or not) in various ways: frozen, dried, fresh (raw), boiled, cooked (like in a stew), and fermented.
Recently, I had the opportunity to go to an Elder’s home for one of my projects at work. We are working on revamping the patient menu at the hospital, and we wanted to test some “Southern” recipes on the Elders to see if they liked them. The Elders’ feedback is especially important to us because they are the ones with the longest hospital stays.
We went over in the afternoon, and we were lucky to show up on a day where they were being served some Country food…and so it gave me an opportunity to see what the food looks like and how they eat it too.
On their menu for the day was frozen fish and seal meat. There was also some Muktuk (whale blubber). They are using a knife called an Ulu to cut it.
The “Southern” foods we had them try were : Shepard’s Pie (winner), Salmon Pot Pie (winner), Cabbage Rolls (winner), and Spaghetti sauce (lose! It was too much of a “powerful” taste. They like to TASTE the ingredients, without too many spices)
Overall, it was a great afternoon. The ladies at the Elder’s home shared lots of information about how we could improve the menu at the hospital, and it was invaluable information for me (and my dietary liaison partner)! We had a great time, and I left wishing I could speak more Inuktitut.
…I also left wishing that I could go visit my Great Aunt at her residence. Value your time with your old-people people! They are awesome.