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Readers of the Edie Kiglatuk series seem to be fascinated and a little grossed out by her (mostly) traditional diet. For those who’d like to try it at home, here are a few recipes…

Igunaq – walrus cheese
A classic. Stuff a walrus or other bladder with chopped raw walrus meat. Bury in the ground, leave over the course of a summer to ferment and break down. Dig up before the ground becomes too hard. Serve in slices.


Akutaq – Inuit Ice Cream
Originally a specialty of the Yupik people of coastal Alaska, Akutaq means ‘something mixed.’ Whip animal fat together with berries and add in some salmon or caribou meat. Suitable animal fats for Akutaq include reindeer or caribou, moose, walrus and seal. Berries can include cranberries, cloudberries, crowberries and blueberries. Serve cold or frozen.

A popular variant is Mouse Akutaq, using roots hoarded by mice in the burrows. It is traditional not to take all the roots but to leave a few for the mice to enjoy.

Pemmican
A Cree First Nations word. An invaluable high-calorie food, a favourite of Inuit, First Nations and Arctic explorers alike, as it is concentrated, easily stored and keeps well. Inuit and Arctic explorers often made a version of this to feed their sled dogs. Take 2 measures of lean meat, 2 scant measure of dried fruit and 1 measure of rendered fat. Dry the meat in a low oven or in the wind until crispy, then pound into powder. Grind up the fruit. To render the fat, melt until golden brown, strain out the solids, cool then repeat the procedure. When the rendered liquid fat has cooled a little, stir in the fruit and meat. The cooled pemmican will store well for a year or more.

Bannock – frybread
A Gaelic bowdlerization of the latin word panicium, meaning baked goods, or panis, meaning bread. Probably first brought to the Arctic by Scottish whalers, the ingredients for bannock were used as trade goods in exchange for furs and meat. This is a basic recipe, but bannock can also be made with dried fruits or meats.

Mix 3 large enamel mugs of white flour in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspooon of of salt and 2 mugs of dried milk powder and 1 tablespoon of shortening. Mix in enough water to make a dough. No need to knead or leave to prove. Heat a little oil in a pan, spread out the dough evenly and fry, turning from time to time, until puffed and brown.

Goose baked in mud
This recipe is taken from the wonderful Yukon Cookbook by Leona Kananen. Edie Kiglatuk has a copy of this book which her author gave to her for Christmas one year. A few species of duck and goose visit Edie’s home on Ellesmere Island during the summer. Edie might make this with eider, snowgoose or even dovekies. Summer is also the best (and only) time for mud, the earth being frozen solid most of the rest of the year. Edie would also eat the bird’s intestines, head, legs, tongue and neck. Traditionally, the wings would be used as small brooms, the sinews as sewing thread and the beak carved into needles. The feathers would go to insulate cabins, make mattresses or decorate clothes. Nothing was ever wasted.

‘Clean goose and chop off legs and neck; leave feathers on. Salt inside, and tie goose around to hold in wings. Make a big ball of mud around goose, and lay this in a nest of hot coals; build a good-sized fire over it, and let it cook for 1 hour. To break open casing, insert a knife into it, and bang knife with a rock or log. The feathers will be pulled off with the clay.’