Recently I was fortunate to receive some moose meat from my cousin Ron. I remembered several ways that my mom, Susan, had prepared moose back home in Attawapiskat when I was young.
The other day I tried one of mom’s recipes and cut up some moose meat and fried it for dinner. I was surprised at the simplicity of the recipe and was even amazed at the fact that it turned out the same as how mom made it. I really enjoy a meal with traditional food because it brings back a lot of good memories of home and life up north on the James Bay coast. Many First Nation people still enjoy having a traditional meal with wild meat even though they live away from their remote home. All the Native people I know who live here in the south jump at the chance to have a meal of traditional moose, goose, caribou or fish.
It was good to have the smell of fried moose meat in the house as I had not had this meal for a long time. The sense of smell is one of the major triggers that help us recall our memories. The smell of moose meat brought me back to my childhood and memories of moose hunting and meals with the family at home and on the land.
The meal was also special in that a great deal of effort and adventure had to take place in order to bring this food to our table. In the fall during the hunting season, hunters and trappers spend days and even weeks searching for food to bring back to their families. Often these hunters have to deal with cold and wet weather and if they are travelling north on the bay they also face the danger of running their freighter canoes on the open ocean. When the hunters returned we listened to their stories around the dinner table as we happily ate our moose or goose.
Many Cree people enjoy moose most when it is fried or cooked in a stew. You have to remember that most of the time we prepared a moose meal from frozen meat. I have memories of watching my mom shave the frozen moose meat with an axe as it was the only efficient way to get supper ready quickly for our large family. She did this so that any of the moose that was not cut could be put back in the freezer as it had not thawed and of course because it was easy to fry. When I took the axe to my frozen piece of moose meat to shave off bits to be fried I managed to surprise my southern non-Native friends who do not consider the axe as a kitchen utensil. Anyway after some chipping away with the axe I ended up with a pan full of moose meat.
I followed my mom’s recipe for preparing moose. I cooked it on high heat with lots of onions to help soften the wild taste. I then added a little water and later a bit of flour. In a short while my moose meat meal was ready and I served it with mashed potatoes. Moose served in this simple fashion is delicious to we Cree and my non-Native friends seemed to enjoy it also. It is even more special when I stop to think that this wonderful meal originated near my home of Attawapiskat along the shores of the great James Bay.