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Wild life Cuisine in Canada's North

Trappers cabin

"There are strange things done in the midnight sun, by the men who moil for gold: the Arctic trails have their secret tales, that would make your blood run cold..." these descriptive words by Robert Service in his famed verse the Cremation of Sam McGee conjure up many a memory of living in Canada's Yukon. Unlike Robert Service, I have no talent in poetic verse, but similar to him I lived in the north for a time but have, as yet, not returned - an absolutely breathtaking part of the world and for some mysterious reason that I cannot identify, I haven't gone back.

In any case, turning this discussion over to food I can share an experience I had in Whitehorse way too long ago that has yet to be matched! This was the annual Wild Game Banquet that is organized by the Yukon Outfitters Association. Have you ever been on an outfitting trip? Let me tell you, there is no experience like it! In any case, the Yukon Territory boasts a number of different species of wild life including moose, Stone Sheep, Dall Sheep, Mountain Gouat, Barren Ground Caribou, Grizzly and Black bears, wolves, wolverine and even Wood Bison. We sampled them all!

The feast I was privy too was a truly authentic and unique northern eating experience. I recall there being every type of animal represented to the Territory, and certainly local to the Territory, prepared in various ways. Keep in mind, that when preparing wild meat there is a whole process and very specific herbs and berries used that really enhance the flavours. Indeed, in many cases, trying to cook wild game in the same way one would cook domesticated cuts such as beef and pork, result in a tougher, gamier taste and texture.

Some of the edible plants local to north of 60 would be the Arrowhead, Northern Bedstraw, Fireweed, Dandelion, Mountain Sorrel, Wild Mint, and Wild Rose. The Yukon also hosts a variety of tasty berries, small often but often more succulent than their southern counterparts. Among the berries are Black Currents, Red Currents, Saskatoon Berries, Crowberries, Cranberries, Bunch Berries and Bear Berries. The berries and various plants can be dried or used fresh in everything from light jellies to sauces to pastries and flavorings for various meat dishes. As well, edible mushrooms are very much part of the Yukon's landscape, some of the edible versions including Black Morel, Saffron Milk Cap, Chicken of the Woods, and Meadow Mushrooms. From Fireweed to Labrador tea. Sampling a number of these varied flavours within the various stews and salads was a truly amazing experience.

So as you might deduce, foraging, hunting and gathering are all incredible activities you can engage in while visiting this part of Canada.


#1 Matthias Tesi Baur 2013-06-10 19:23
Very interesting article. I would like to learn more about the North-Canadian cuisine!

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