From Climax candies to beer made from icebergs, here are 12 crazy Newfoundland foods to discover, if you dare. By Nikki Bayley.
1. Jiggs Dinner
Named after an Irish immigrant comic strip character, if you’ve got Irish relatives you’ve definitely had a ‘Jiggs Dinner’: salt beef, spuds, carrot, cabbage and turnip all boiled to within an inch of their lives and pretty much the perfect thing on a rainy Sunday.
2. Cod tongues
Think of it more as a foodie nose-to-tail (or in this case tongue to fin) rite of passage; after all, it’s fashionable AND sustainable to eat what Anthony Bourdain called ‘the nasty bits’.
Yes, these are real cod tongues, dipped in seasoned flour and fried – and they’re surprisingly tasty. For more ways with cod, find out how to become an honorary Newfoundlander here.
I feel that someone, somewhere was achingly hungover when scrunchions were invented: cubes of pork backfat, fried gently till the fat has rendered and they become salt-spangled porky puffs of pure joy.
These are usually paired with cod tongues or switched for croutons on chowder.
Also known as cloudberries, this terrifically tart berry grows wild in peat bogs and is a little like a sour raspberry.
You’ll find bakeapples popping up on the breakfast table in jams and arriving at dessert time in a pie.
5. Oyster leaf
The name of this curious wild-growing herb is a bit of a giveaway. It tastes exactly like an oyster: briny and fresh, but with a crunchy consistency.
There is something disconcerting about leaves tasting like bivalves, but this cheffy ingredient can be found in Newfoundland’s best dining spots such as Fogo Island Inn (read more about Fogo Island Inn here) and Raymonds.
Pronounced tow-ton, this is a deep-fried ball of dough, usually served with treacly black molasses.
Eating it will make you happier than you ever knew was possible.
7. Caribou moss
Another cheffy hand-foraged ingredient that comes from the tundra.
You need to soak it with baking powder to strip it of its toxic acidity, but then it can be candied, brined, dried to a crunchy chip or a dozen other things to add a taste of place to a Newfoundland meal.
8. Purity Candy
Impossible not to have a good giggle at this heritage candy company who sell bags of Climax Mixture and Peppermint Nobs with a perfectly straight face.
Best purchased from the small town of Dildo (really, it’s a place) for maximum sniggering.
9. Iceberg Vodka / Iceberg Beer
Unique in the world, no one else harvests icebergs and turns the 10,000-year-old, pre-Industrial Revolution pure water into booze, but the Newfoundlanders.
So raise a glass of Iceberg Beer from the excellent Quidi Vidi brewery and follow that with a shot of Iceberg Vodka to say ‘thank you’.
A little like a cranberry, this tongue-tinglingly sour berry comes with a side of amazing health benefits from fighting cancer to slowing the effects of ageing.
Seek out the splendidly named Dark Tickle Company’s partridgeberry jam as a souvenir for home.
11. Flipper Pie
Not a euphemism. Flipper pie is made with actual seal flippers and I’m told it’s a delicacy; the seal meat is gamey yet fishy at the same time.
Alas, the pie I had precisely one bite of was on a boat and handed to me with the apology, ‘That flipper’s a bit oozy.’
Trust me. Never eat an oozy flipper.
12. Labrador tea
This most determined plant grows flat on the freezing tundra, its deep green leaves curled under and white flowers briefly blossoming.
Traditionally used by First Nations as a Vitamin C-rich tea, you can also find it as a botanical in Ungava gin.
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