Things I have eaten in Tuk

June 6, 2017

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 

-Soup

Reindeer is tasty, similar to Caribou, it's a very moist and decadent meat. 

 

Yellow-Leg Goose

 -Soup

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. 

 

Maktak 

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.

 

 

 

 

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