RIVER DENE RESERVE, Northwest Territories - According to the kitchen
of Elaine Tambour, the best way to get rid of the gamey flavor
of beaver is to boil the rodent in coffee.
is a traditional recipe included in a soon-to-be-released cookbook
that will be incorporating the dishes of the Northwest Territories.
Besides the accumulation of a variety of northern meals, the publication
is also a project to preserve the South Slavey dialect.
by the Northwest Territories Literacy Council, Tambour is likely
creating the first book in this language spoken by those Indians
south of Yellowknife, the territorial capital. To be distributed
for free throughout the region, with a first-run edition of 500
copies, these recipes will be an education tool for the more than
half of the population that understand South Slavey and its related
North Slavey tongue.
was nothing, not a storybook, nothing that was in Slavey," said
Tambour. "That's why Northwest Territories literacy was so interested."
more than 100 recipes from wild meat to vegetables and another dozen
combinations of bannock and baked goods, there's enough variety
to please the palate of both adventurous and discriminating diners.
Consulting eight elders plus a multitude of staff and parents from
the reserve's day care, where Tambour is the coordinator, this endeavor
required four months to compile and was released during the community's
fall feast in mid-October, the Canadian Thanksgiving.
celebration follows the moose hunt and appropriately there are several
ways to prepare these animals. Following the rule that nothing edible
should go to waste, one of the simpler recipes is moose stomach
that requires nothing more than the stomach, blood and an open fire.
would have more nutritional value than the liver would because the
stomach would have all the vitamins you would get in the vegetation
and double the iron from the blood," Tambour said.
moose stomach and boiled beaver (add onion seasoning to taste) might
not appeal to everybody's tastes, the simplicity of these meals
is by design. Recipes have been modified to exclude what would be
deemed modern conveniences because, as Tambour notes, such ingredients
like canned goods and spices might not be obtainable in some remotes
areas of the Northwest Territories.
by sticking to easy-to-prepare meals improves the local diet. With
a high rate of diabetes among Aboriginals that's attributable to
artificial flavoring and chemicals, Tambour sees traditional foods
as a means to control this epidemic.
the people who are born here, their bodies are not designed to eat
southern foods," she said.
convert the recipes from English into Slavey was the effort of Tambour's
husband Alex. Most of the translation was easy and for those foods
that weren't originally native to the north, such as those brought
in centuries ago by the trappers and explorers; the English remained
and is listed as such in the cookbook. Besides, he said, some words
just wouldn't translate.
is no word for vinegar, vanilla and um, (pause) Viagra," Alex said
with a laugh.
through the unbound rough draft, most of the recipes are only a
couple of sentences with just a handful of ingredients. One that
caught my eye was the cranberry chicken casserole and when inquiring
how the rice with cranberries is combined with the poultry, Elaine's
response was in line with the preparation's simplicity.
case you haven't noticed, everything up here is cooked in one pot,"
she said adding these meals are designed to be cooked without the
need of modern appliances as well.