Canadian Cuisine: Nunavut

Buchun Gulf, Michelle Valberg
michelle valberg; valberg; valberg imaging; ottawa photographer; nikon photographer; arctic photographer; landscape photographer; canadian photography; nikon ambassador; canadian nikon ambassador; wildlife photographer; nunavut; nunavut tourisn; canada; canada's arctic; north; canada's north; canadian arctic;; arctic bay; northwest passage; arctic photography; arctic kaleidoscope; ben and nuki discover polar bears; polar bears; adventure; adventure photographer; adventure canada; nikon; northwest passage; fall; autumn in the arctic; arctic autumn; arctic fall; arctic landscape, buchun gulf, northwest passage, inuit

A far greater exploration is required to fully appreciate both traditional and modern cuisine across the vast expanse of this territory. In brief, traditional Inuit cuisine is based on survival, to stay warm and strong, but also involves spirituality and a reverent relationship with natural resources.

The climate prohibits agriculture and farmed vegetation, so what is hunted and gathered is respected and shared. What one member of a community catches is shared with the rest. Land mammals like caribou, polar bear and muskox are fermented, smoked, stewed or roasted depending on the season. A traditional fermentation practice involves preserving a seal or grouse within a thick layer of blubber and skin. Sea mammals like walrus, seal and beluga or bowhead whale are prized for their meat, blubber and skin. Whale blubber and skin are traditionally eaten raw or frozen. Seafood and fish also include Greenland shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, turbot, Arctic char, Arctic cod and lake trout.

Though green plants are scarce, seaweed, various tubers, grasses, seasonal flowering plants, and wild berries including blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, crowberries, cloudberries and Baffin berries are gathered and stored.

Traditional recipes include bannock; akutaq, a mixture of berries and fat; suaasat, a hearty soup combining sea and land mammals with sea birds; and igunaq, steak of meat and fat buried in the ground to ferment over the winter. Traditional drinks include Labrador tea and melted glacier ice.

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Adam Waxman
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being; as well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival. He is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine, and Chief Content Officer of DINE Media Inc.