Saturday, October 8, 2011

Learning from the First Peoples

Tofitians love their food. With so many excellent restaurants, local food-related events, such as the Tofino Food and Wine Festival, and initiatives such as TUCG, that provide us with fresh seasonal food, it's no wonder we have so many "foodies."

The west coast is a bountiful place. Although we have more access to "local" foods, the word local is relative. Peaches aren't really local, but salad and red huckleberries are. Lamb or turkey wasn't a staple of the past, but venison, duck, fish of all species, and even whale were on the diet. The natural bounty of this place sustained the First Nations people for thousands of years. It was hard work all that hunting and gathering, but food was relatively plentiful. It had to be to support populations of more than 10,000.

The connections to traditional foods have weakened over the years, but a great initiative from Uu-a-thluk, part of the Nuu-chah-nulth Fisheries, have produced some wonderful resources on traditional foods and their preparation. (Uu-a-thluk means "taking care of.") Curious about eelgrass and herring eggs or how to prepare food in a steam pit? Then this is a great resource to check out. Their Nuu-chah-nulth Traditional Foods Toolkit, includes six booklets — Eelgrass, Candy of the Sea; Herring Spawn; Quu-as Tips for Drying and Smoking Salmon; Steam Pit Cooking; Low Tide Foods; and the Nuu-chah-nulth Traditional Foods Reference Guide. Proceeds from the purchase of these items go towards their programming, which includes feasts where youth learn about traditional foods from their elders.

Here is a great video describing the project.

And here's an article about the project.

Make sure you also check out the wonderful cookbook put out by Uu-a-thluk, camus.

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