SALMON’S NEVER BEEN SO SWEET
Candied salmon has never featured in my lunch box nor that of my two children, but on a visit to a remote part of Canada called Haida Gwaii, the kids I chatted to declared it the treat of treats. By the end of a week, despite being a fan of salmon, I still hadn’t acquired the taste, but I had eaten this fish at almost every meal. I also dined on giant crabs pulled from pots just off shore and tried in-season chanterelle mushrooms with eggs at breakfast.
It felt like a privilege to eat this food. Throughout the days I had been receiving history lessons from the traditional owners of the area and gaining an understanding of their deep connection to land and sea.
One day I copied down a message carved on a walking trail board. It said: “I am the Yakoun River, the largest in Haida Gwaii. In my waters swim all species of salmon including sockeye, chum, coho, pink and chinook. In my wake, cedar-carved canoes drift. I look after the Haida; I feed their families, nourish their forests, and entertain their children. In return, they gather on my banks to share their catch with a communal feast. The fish return to the river to complete the circle of life.”
Further along the path another read: “I am the grandmother of the Haida. One of the thousands of trees – yew, spruce, cedar, pine, hemlock and alder – that grow to provide, nurture, and teach the Haida. Use my bark for weaving baskets, my wood for carving canoes, and my branches as canes ... The Haida acknowledge and thank us for providing and never take more than they need.”
Sure, flop-and-stop resort holidays are lovely but a trip which opens one’s eyes to new cultures and provokes thought is just as important.