The ‘True New­found­lan­der’ sup­per de­bate

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Wheels - Terry Bursey Food Dude

Last year at the start of Au­gust, I was hon­oured by a close friend to help cook for a din­ner party in the New-Wes-Val­ley area. The day be­fore the event, she ten­ta­tively warned me that her fam­ily of­ten liked to “de­bate while they ate” and that I’d be called upon at some point for my opin­ion. I grinned, un­til she added that one should also agree with her dad on most top­ics. When pressed, she said sim­ply that it would avoid a fuss. I frowned. Not much of a de­bate if it’s one sided, I thought.

The fol­low­ing day I was wel­comed in­side their gor­geous tucked-away cabin in the nearby woods. I un­loaded my bur­den of gear with the en­er­getic aid of some of the fam­ily, all of whom were no­tice­ably out­go­ing and friendly per­son­al­i­ties. Upon re­gard­ing my as­sort­ment of in­gre­di­ents, a few fam­ily mem­bers seemed a bit puz­zled and even snide.

The other en­trees served at the din­ner party were un­doubt­edly tra­di­tional. Cor­nu­copias of elec­tric warm­ers were al­ready over­flow­ing with jiggs din­ner, cod britches (fried egg sacks) cod tongues and a host of other Is­land del­i­ca­cies. I wished that I was fore­warned that the party was “old school New­found­land” themed but re­mem­bered that for many Is­lan­ders, that was the re­cur­ring theme of life it­self. Shov­ing my ap­pre­hen­sion aside, I scrubbed up and pre­pared to make:

Cana­dian Pork Ten­der­loin

1 pork ten­der­loin 1 pack­age maple ba­con 3 cups bread crumbs 2 tbsp savoury

1 small onion, fine diced ½ cup real but­ter, melted Sea­son to taste

French Cab­bage

1 small head red cab­bage (sliv­ered)

1 cup of orange juice 1 tsp cin­na­mon

½ lime (finely grated) ¾ cup red wine

1 tbsp brown sugar Salt and pep­per to taste

Scot’s Pota­toes

5 large golden pota­toes, peeled and chopped

¼ cup minced horse­rad­ish ½ cup but­ter

½ cup whole milk

Salt and pep­per to taste


Pre­heat oven to 350 de­grees F and a cast iron pan on high. Mi­crowave but­ter to melt, com­bine with the bread­crumbs, onion and savoury in large bowl, mix well. Slice your ten­der­loin length­wise but not all the way through. Spoon the dress­ing into the sliced area and roll for­ward. Wrap the closed ten­der­loin in ba­con. Sear out­side on the iron pan to seal en­tire sur­face. Place in oven and bake for 20 min­utes (145 F in­ter­nal temp), then in­crease heat to 475 F for an­other 10 min­utes. On high, braise cab­bage apt in­gre­di­ents for roughly 12 min­utes or un­til al dente, stir­ring through­out with tongs.

Boil pota­toes for 10 min­utes, com­bine listed potato in­gre­di­ents and mash with a sturdy whisk. Beat un­til smooth and fluffy.

When we were fi­nally all seated to eat and a grace was said, the dis­cus­sion be­gan im­me­di­ately be­tween pass­ing re­quests and com­pli­ments. As proph­e­sized, none among the host fam­ily touched the ex­otic food I pre­pared, but I was pleased to see a cou­ple of fel­low guests from away load their plates with each.

“What do you do for a liv­ing, Terry-b’y?” asked the large-set man at the head of the ta­ble, our host.

“I’m a cook and a free­lance writer for news­pa­pers.” I replied.

There was an au­di­ble wince. It seemed I trig­gered our host’s favourite de­bate topic – the ero­sion of New­found­land cul­ture by the evil me­dia. I lis­tened rapt as he pro­ceeded to ques­tion my sta­tus as a “True New­found­lan­der” with my lack of ac­cent, my food pref­er­ences and vo­ca­tion choices as well as a small tirade about how New­found­land’s me­dia shouldn’t pub­lish con­tent which he con­sid­ered to be anti-New­found­land (which was just about ev­ery­thing out­side of New­found­land cul­ture). De­spite how Or­wellian and xeno­pho­bic his stance was and how they par­al­leled the poli­cies of cer­tain his­tor­i­cal dic­ta­tors (cough) I held my tongue un­til asked for my take.

“How do we de­fine a ‘True New­found­lan­der’? Is it rant­ing and roar­ing? Does it pre­fer jiggs din­ner to pizza or never ques­tion our ways?

There’s room on the is­land for more than one kind of New­found­lan­der.”

Oddly enough, that set­tled the mat­ter.

Thanks for read­ing.

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