A Thumbs Up Book Review
Iqaluich Niginaqtuat, The Fish That We Eat
by Anore Jones, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Review by Sally Fallon
While the food industry does its best to wipe out traditional foods, Anore Jones, with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, has spent the last 40 years saving food lore and recipes from the Inupiat of northwest Alaska. The volume reviewed here–over 300 pages long–deals only with fish, with tomes on land animals and plant foods to follow.
What a gift! Jones has thoroughly and meticulously described every fish in the Inupiat diet, and detailed every way in which it is prepared–drying (including smoking), freezing, fermenting, cooking, salting and pickling. The practice of eating frozen fish–both freshly frozen and fermented and frozen–is particularly common. Interestingly, botulism seldom occurs in traditionally fermented foods unless they are fermented in or under plastic.
Jones summarizes: “Two main factors which have contributed to the excellent health of the Inupiat through the ages are the availability of fresh, naturally fed fish and in how they ate their fish, seeking out the fat- and nutrient-dense parts: invariably the eggs and often the liver, head, skin and edible parts of the stomach and intestines.”
From this marvelous compendium you will learn when various species of fish are fattest (hence desirable); how to dry herring; how to eat dried herring row preserved in oil; how to prepare tomcod liver (eaten hot or cold with seal oil or berries); why you need to take the guts out of flounder (because this fish has strong and bitter bile); how to make fish broth (a traditional drink of choice for the Inupiat); how to eat boiled fish heads (start with the best pieces, the large cheek muscles and the fatty part behind the ball of the eyes); how to make fermented salmon heads in a two-foot deep hole lined with green grass; how to prepare trout livers with blackberries; how to render oil from sheefish and then make a meal of sheefish stomach followed by dessert of sheefish spleen.
Fish eggs are prepared in numerous ways–fresh raw, boiled and baked, dried, frozen, fermented, stored in oil. “They are eaten because people love them, and incidentally, they also happen to be extremely nutritious.” The Inupiat even enjoy fish eggs for dessert, mixed with blueberries, whipped with cranberries or mashed into snow to make fish egg ice cream! Talk about a nutrient-dense diet!
Serious students of traditional diets need this book in their libraries. In fact, The Fish That We Eat may prove to be a lifesaving manual should Earth experience a pole shift! Congratulations to Anore Jones for her valuable confirmation of Dr. Price’s findings.
The Fish That We Eat can be accessed and printed out at http://alaska.fws.gov/asm/fisreportdetail.cfm?fisrep=21. Click on Northwest Arctic and then on Iqaliuch Niginaqtuat, Fish That We Eat.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2006.