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A little taste of home

Familiar foods bring comfort to Newfies living in Kivalliq

Nathan VanderKlippe
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Aug 07/02) - Technically, there's only place in all of Canada where you can find a can of pineapple-flavoured Crush: Newfoundland.

Dig around a little, though, and you'll likely find cans of the beverage scattered throughout the country. Chances are, you might even find a can in the Kivalliq.

But to get to it, you might have to dig through a pile of other foodstuffs unfamiliar to the mainland eye: bottled moose, Purity brand jam-jams, maybe even a container of cod tongues or cod cheeks.

In fact, enter just about any Newfie home in the Kivalliq, and you'll likely find a hearty supply of foreign-looking products. That's because just about everywhere they go, natives of Newfoundland take with them a culinary tradition as unique in Canada as islanders' accents.

Take Neta Smith, for example. She grew up on the Rock, but spent 13 years in Ontario before moving to Rankin several years ago. Even so, she says, "there is still things from Newfoundland that I miss and that I crave once in a while."

"I cook as much Newfoundland food as I can," she says. "We have our traditional jigs dinner every once in a while, and I make my own bread. I still go back to my roots for a lot of our eating."

Some of the products are available in Rankin on an occasional basis -- a welcome reprieve for those longing for a taste of their childhood menus.

Many of the products come from only one place, however, and that's only accessible by air.

So for Jane Pelley, keeping in touch with the home island means loading up on goods whenever she or any relatives make the trip back to Newfoundland. Whenever she goes, she stuffs two coolers full of frozen capelin and salt fish and whatever frozen goodies she can haul.

She also packs up a dry container filled with things like split peas, rhubarb relish, hard bread and bottled rabbit.

And, of course, Mt. Scio Savoury, a uniquely Newfoundland brand of spice for dressings.

"That's the brand," she says. "There is no other brand. Others don't taste the same."

The taste of home serves a purpose far beyond tickling taste buds with familiar sensations, however. Like smell, taste is inextricably linked with memory and a sense of comfort.

As Pelley puts it, "when you bring a bit of Newfoundland with you, it doesn't make you so homesick."