October 02, 2009

Muktuk and chihuahua eyes...

A few things went on today leaving me with a little bit of a problem. What should I include in this post? Both of them? One is relatively stressful and worrying, while the other falls into the positive category. I have to say, I don't think I can leave either out. They are the two things that coloured the day and the points which I will remember in the future.

I'll stick with the positive story first; today we had a pot-luck at school with char, muktuk, and all the fixin's. The menu was pretty much a last minute decision shaded by a guy who called the school asking about the college pre-trades program and ended up selling me a fish. Funny how things work out that way. I bought a fresh char, still beautifully pink and fresh smelling, just before lunch and everyone took their break knowing what they should bring when they returned in the afternoon. This first pic is my fish! Cut, floured, and ready to fry. Yum!

This next pic shows some of the final dishes. Great stuff. Two big bowls of hand-picked berries,  sushi, two types of muktuk (whitish stuff from the belly and black from the back, pies, rice salad, sausage, cheese, crackers. It's so great to have the facilities in the

school which allow us to do this sort of thing. It reminded me of a certain tale I heard years ago...about a man who came to a small community and fed the villagers' hunger.

It starts with a village with very obvious animosities; no one trusts anyone and everyone looks out only for him/herself. Survival of the fittest - that sort of thing.

Anyway, a wanderer comes into the village one day (don't all good stories start with a wanderer?) and took note of all the problems; he also felt confident that he could 'heal' these people. Everyone in the community was hungry, for there was never enough food to go around. People hoarded food. He very conspicuously pulls out a big soup pot, fills it with water, drops in a rock he takes out of his pack, and waits for the reaction. You see, like in all small communities, he knows he is being watched. People begin to gather and laugh. He replies only by saying he has a magic rock that will make enough soup to feed the whole village.

After the water has boiled for awhile, the wanderer takes out a spoon and carefully takes a small sip off the wooden spoon stored in his back. "Ah, excellent. Doesn't it smell good? Oh, if only we have a few carrots...it would give it so much more flavour." It turns out that there was a farmer with a few wilted and rubbery carrots which he quickly added to the pot. A potato farmer followed suit as well some rice and a slab of beef. As the soup simmered, more and more people gathered; as smell started to drift through the crowd, more and more people started to laugh and give up their regular armour.

In  the end, the wanderer packs up his 'magic stone and pot' and allows the villagers to enjoy the food on their own. They needed to work together to get the lesson. And they did.

Phew...round-about way to say it felt something like that today at lunch. Not the animosity, of course, but the sharing. That's what we did today.

Now, the muktuk. For those of you who don't know, it's basically the tough skin and the fat which lines it. It is cut off the whale in large chunks (we had narwhale). From there, most of the fat is sliced off and used for other things (ie: fuel). What's left is just a little fat and the chewy outer skin.

I these pictures you can see one of my students scraping the fat with ulu. The real ones I've seen in the school's kitchen are pretty boring-looking things, but hers was really nice...the handle seemed to be sculpted around her hand making it much easier to use (well, she made it look easier).

I tried working with the ulu...we needed a sharp blade to slice the sushi...but I was useless. I don't know if it was because it sharpened for a right-hander to use (and I'm left-handed) or because a qallunaaq like me needs a bit more practise.

You can eat muktuk dipped in either soy sauce or OXO powder. I think the former might be good - just enough salt - but the powder is sooo salty! I think, though, if I wanted a large piece, I would be ok with that. I ate several pieces, but they were all small...kind of like the size of a nickel.

Literally 'chewing the fat' was truly a social affair. People just hung out and chewed on little whale bits throughout a conversation. You cannot eat it quickly and, because it's really chewy, you cannot eat it with your mouth closed...at least, I couldn't. It was interesting.

Friday morning...

I fell asleep last night before I could finish this entry.

My second piece of news is that I'm heading to Ottawa today. No, nothing good. Gryphon's eye is completely closed up and watering like crazy. Eye problems swing back and forth pretty quickly and my vet is really concerned about the fact that I can't get him the right medical treatment. I trust her, so I'm going to make the trip.

Isn't he cute? How could you say no to a face like this...you can see him curled up on me when I blog. And he travels well.

Anyway, that's the bad news. I have to be at the airport in about two hours, though, so I'd better sign out now. I'm going to have to walk the whole way there...since it's a business day, I don't have my regular 'drive' possibilities. Boo.

1 comment:

Morena said...

Sorry about your puppy! I hope he is doing better soon!