Part of travelling is eating the local cuisine. Maybe things you've never even heard of or thought you would/could ever eat.
Since I've come up to Tuk, I have had the following things I'd never eaten before (I'd had Caribou before):
Reindeer is tasty, similar to Caribou, it's a very moist and decadent meat.
This was the first goose I'd had. It was pretty much just boiled with rice and soup mix. I had a very small piece of meat because I was wary. This was a good decision. My sensitive city tummy balked and three hours later I might as well have eaten a bag of sugar free gummy bears. I thought I was dying. Turns out it's 100% common if you've never eaten goose before or have even gone a long time between eating geese. This goose was quite gamey in a way that it was almost soapy? But not like cilantro if that makes sense. Very greasy and I didn't like the initial gamey taste but the aftertaste was yummy enough to keep eating away.
-Meat, heart and gizzard
My Educational Assistant Jenny, brought in one of the geese that her son had shot while hunting. We had a big inquiry based lesson on geese and local geese and then we plucked the goose (Which I am surprisingly good at, uses the same finger dexterity as french/dutch braids and cornrows I think) and then opened it up and looked inside and examined all the organs and structures body parts and compared them to ours. We found the kidneys that looked just like slightly bigger kidney beans and squeezed the stinky bile out of the intestines in two colours, we opened the gizzard to see the sand and rocks to help digest and watched how the diaphragm works (helpful for our mindful breathing and yoga). We also greatly enjoyed playing with the head, it became a bit of a puppet as we examined the serrated bill and the spiky tongue and the windpipe and the eyeballs and the skull and brain. It was an amazing learning experience and then Jenny popped it in the oven and we had goose for last snack! It was delicious and the kids devoured it, to the point of sticking their tongues into the rib cage to get every last bit. I'd never eaten any sort of offal, it was my grandmother's favourite part and she'd put the bits she didn't like in the stuffing (I still don't trust homemade stuffing) But, I wanted to try everything and be a good role model and demonstrate respect. The piece of heart was good, a bit of a metallic tang, but I might have been looking for it, it was very slight. The gizzard piece tasted like a really great sausage.
Yellow Leg Goose Eggs
Goose Eggs are fresh eggs, which immediately makes them good. Big thick orange yolks makes tasty scrambled eggs. They don't taste much different from a fresh farm chicken egg, just bigger.
Eskimo Donuts* (Putuligaat)
If you go to any event up north, you will have these donuts. Do not be expecting Tim Hortons or Homer Simpson style sweet donuts with icing and fillings. These delicious deep fried breads are most often eaten with a caribou chili!
*I'm using the term Eskimo Donuts as that is what they are referred to as up here to differentiate from southern donuts. They're most often just referred to as donuts up here. The Inuvialuit sometimes refer to themselves as Eskimo, the same way some First Nations peoples refer to themselves as Indians.
The Eskimo are actually the Yupik peoples of Alaska and though some people here do have Yupik heritage, they should not be referred to as Eskimos by outsiders as it would be like calling an Austrian French, but with extra colonialism mixed in.
(I keep eating them faster than I can take a picture, so here's one from Top of The World Girl's blog)
Eskimo* Ice Cream (Akutuq)
-The version I had was savoury with whipped and frozen rendered caribou fat and meat that was then shaved. It looked sweet but tasted more like a really fresh buffalo mozzarella.
Dry Meat (Mipku)
-Dried and frozen caribou, the kind I had wasn't smoked or seasoned or anything so it was more like a cold dried chewy caribou meat. Exactly what you'd expect, fine and inoffensive but I'm used to salting and seasoning. I don't love unseasoned jerkies either.
Deep Fried Whitefish Eggs (Suvak)
This is not my picture, but it looks pretty close to what I had, just without the breading. There's a meaty part that you eat as well that tastes like calamari. The eggs are little like those round nonpareil sprinkles and pretty much also taste like calamari.
On Inuvialuit day, June 5th, the day the final land claims agreement was settled in 1984, local culture is celebrated across the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. A feast of traditional foods was held including cooked maktak. (the uncooked fermented version is really tricky to make without botulism, so it's not offered at public events) There was also a smallest and biggest fish competition, foot races, traditional dress competition, drum dancing, tug-o-war and darkest tan contest. (The kids told me to participate, I laughed and said maybe as a contrast. One told me my skin is very bright)
Anyway, I was most excited to finally try Maktak (aka Muktuk) Which is beluga whale blubber and meat. I had the little chunks on my plate and told the mom of one of my students it was my first time eating it. She immediately inspected my pieces, turned them over and told me to make sure I peel off the top skin layer before eating. I did that and was surprised by how good it was. It's like chewing rubbery fat or cold calamari. But it tastes mostly just plain with a light almost floral after taste. I ate all the pieces and was glad I did. I also realize that Calamari is basically my chicken, in terms of foods I compare things to.
Sorry I've been so MIA. I did this great hike around Tuk and up to the DEW line and then proceeded to get a flu bug and spend the next week in bed. Or trying to go to school, fainting and having to come back home. You'd think this would mean ample time to write, but you'd be wrong. It was ample time to sleep. Also my vision was super blurry. So that's enough excuses.
I'm a big nut for Google maps. If you look at Tuktoyaktuk on Google maps, I took 96% of the photos (Jana took the other 4) and I've been putting all the businesses and everything on there and trying really hard to get the street names. When I moved here, anything in Tuk was just placed in the center of town and it was impossible to find anything. This is my little way of helping tourists and newbies.
So last weekend I wanted to get more businesses onto Google maps. If you live in the area, PLEASE go on google maps and go to "My contributions" in the sidebar and verify some of my edits so they can go up faster please! And add all your local knowledge.
I met up with Jana and one of her photography students and we took on the eastern side of Tuk. And then we went hiking up to the DEW line.
It's pretty easy in the summer, I'd wager. You just follow the road until you're there. But it wasn't all cleared or melted so about half way it went from leisurely stroll to major hike and up to my hip in snow.
It had been cleared semi recently when they brought up fuel and new supplies to the DEW line. We thought we heard a helicopter, but it was the generator. The North Warning System is up and at-em listening to the skies and taking pictures of interlopers.
It was pretty warm, but still cold when we left the confines of town.
I'd walk in Jana's footprints so I wouldn't get a surprise by sinking.
The snow drifts and dunes look like sand.
Our muddy footprints on the clean untouched snow. Also, yes these are mine and I walk weird. Bad knees, etc.
From snow and ice back to mud as we approach the area. No Keep Outs or barbed wire here.
This lovely attempt at barbed wire is further down the hill on your way to the DEW line.
I don't know what this is other than a lot of old boats and shipping containers. It might be for if the harbour gets fully functional again, Jana took more photos of the ships frozen in the sea.
Just googled, It's where the ferries and boat shipments come in. The Federal government provides the security I guess. Or as was said in 2006: "We are taking steps to address priority security needs in our transportation system to help ensure it remains secure and efficient. This funding will give ports and marine facilities the opportunity to make improvements to security, so they can be better equipped to address potential terrorist threats."
Man between Drayton, West Edmonton and Tuk, I sure have been living at terror targets. (Drayton being headquarters for a LOT of oil companies and having a lot of pipelines crossing and such. West Edmonton of course having the mall and Tuk having... the DEW line and access to sneaking in to our shores?)
I watched a video of Tuk in 1987. It looks exactly the same. That's how you can tell it's Canada. Western Canada anyway, nothing really looks more current than 1987. Sometime in the late 70's/mid 80's I think there was a lot of funding for building things. Like when you go to the Edmonton LRT stations downtown and you might as well have gone through a time machine. Not a complaint and I'm sure Toronto is modern and with it. But to me, you could watch an episode of like... The Beachcombers and know that's pretty much what lots of Canada still looks like.
I don't know why The Beachcombers is my reference... I'd always change the channel when it came on TV Land or DejaView because it was boring and too Canadian for my prepubescent tastes.
For modern rural western Canada I guess Corner Gas is the better reference point.
And if you're a young'un or just not Canadian, watch some Royal Canadian Air Farce. Early seasons only please. Once the new hip young cast came on, it just wasn't the same. (Apparently I was 10 when the new cast came on... remember that I was a child hipster) Having said that, it's topical Canadian humor from 20 years ago. So if you are a young'un or not Canadian you probably won't enjoy it at all. ( Also, if you are an old Canadian and you haven't seen Rick Mercer's Talking to Americans. First of all WHERE WERE YOU IN 2001?!. Second of all WATCH IT NOW, IT IS A NATIONAL TREASURE)
Here's two of my favourite skits:
Politically Correct "O, Canada".
I Am Mike. From Canmore.
Well, now that I've gone off on an insane tangent about Canadian television...
Yes you can get right up close enough to hear banging and clanging inside. Seriously a good horror movie could be made, especially at one of the abandoned DEW line sites.
Epcot, it's not.
The most military looking part.
Too many stairs for something that isn't a water slide... Eagles, Hawks and Ravens often nest up there.
That day a falcon was defending her nest.
The view of Tuk.
The top one looks just like a big white soccer ball.
There are lots of really cool rocks and fossilized wood. I filled my pockets...
For a military installation, it is really peaceful out there and if you're in Tuk and feel like a little hike, I do recommend going up there for a picnic or something. In the summer when the water is actually moving it's probably even nicer, (except for all the bugs)
I finally got my picture with the Welcome to Tuk sign. It's going to be replaced soon with a new design. But for now, I've got a better picture for the front page, haha. (This is right by the airport)
On Tuesday I found fresh goose feet at the base of the slide when the kids were out for recess. Also a bunch of dead mice, but the goose feet were more interesting and less disgusting.
It is hunting season and the kids love to practice their goose calls and duck calls at recess. We've been learning about local birds and spending lots of time outside looking and listening.
In my last blog I asked what you'd like to see, Cheryl asked to see a snow man. And one of my students provided, with the teeniest tiniest snow man you ever did see.
Just a reminder to comment with what you'd like to see! I'll do my best. My grocery post is coming up soon.