Ban­nock panic

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Editorial - Terry Bursey The Food Dude In­gre­di­ents 6 cups flour 1 cup lard or short­en­ing 2 ½ tbsp bak­ing pow­der 1 tbsp salt 2 cups berries (any kind) 3 ½ cups of wa­ter

My first ex­pe­ri­ence with ban­nock was at a kind of sum­mer fes­ti­val in south­ern Al­berta when I was 10 years old.

To this day, I’m not sure what the fes­ti­val was called or what the peo­ple were even cel­e­brat­ing but it was held on an open prairie land­scape near a town called Acme. The flat and grassy land­scape was pep­pered with tents of all kinds for as far as the eye could see – which on the prairie, was pretty far.

Next to a long lineup of kids my own age (that were busy mak­ing plant fi­bre ropes with some sort of mys­te­ri­ous wheel con­trap­tion) were a group of men and women cook­ing berry-rid­dled bread on a stick over an open fire.

A lover of food even back then; I boldly asked if I could try some of the fas­ci­nat­ing stick bread that smelled so good. I’m still un­sure as to why they found the ques­tion as funny as they did but it brought on a cho­rus of laugh­ter from the en­tire group that was con­ta­gious.

When our laugh­ter died I was handed a foil cov­ered chunk of the ban­nock and told to share it with my friends. Spy­ing none of my pre-es­tab­lished friends around me, I tore the ban­nock in half and of­fered it to the girl amongst the group of ban­nock mak­ers that looked to be about my age. This caused an even big­ger up­roar of laugh­ter than be­fore, but the laugh­ter didn’t last long.

There was a storm brew­ing that day that up un­til then had passed for a few harm­less clouds. At that mo­ment, the en­tire fes­ti­val erupted into writhing chaos as hail stones the size of mar­bles bom­barded our heads. We scat­tered in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions and I re­mem­ber strain­ing to hear my fa­ther’s voice over the noise of the panic and boom­ing rolls of thun­der. Frus­trated, I de­cided in­stead to shel­ter my­self un­der a pic­nic ta­ble with the same girl I had shared my ban­nock with mo­ments be­fore.

The girl my own age in that group around the ban­nock fire be­came one of my best Al­ber­tan child­hood friends that day and through­out that year taught me all that my child­hood cu­rios­ity could in­quire about her cul­ture and the Cree way of life. It wasn’t un­til much later though that I learned how to make:

Cree Camp­fire Ban­nock


Start a small con­trolled camp­fire. In a large bowl, cut lard into the flour. Add re­main­ing dry in­gre­di­ents and mix well. Add flour grad­u­ally while gen­tly knead­ing the dough un­til uni­form. On cleaned wooden sticks, en­ve­lope a hand­ful of ban­nock dough over the tip of the stick and wrap the dough tightly onto it in a spi­ral. Place over the fire with­out touch­ing the flames and oc­ca­sion­ally ro­tate to avoid scorch­ing sim­i­lar to the method of roast­ing hot dogs. The ban­nock is done when the out­side is golden brown. Makes about 4 serv­ings.

Thanks for read­ing! Ni­naaskomtin!

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