Canadian Cuisine: Nunavut

Buchun Gulf, Michelle Valberg
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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.

For more detailed information about dining, staying and experiencing Nunavut, go to: http://destinationnunavut.ca/en/activities/dining

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