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Part Qallunaaq
Chapter 24. Reflections on Food and Music

Getting in touch with my Scottish heritage hasn’t affected my taste for Inuit food. I continue to enjoy the bounty of the Arctic land and sea. However, I might get serious about following up on a recipe for caribou haggis sent to me sometime ago by John MacDonald. John must be the only Scot who’s made such food from Arctic wildlife. It’s very fitting for him to have found the right blend of ingredients (chopped caribou organs laced with onions, spices, and oatmeal).

I’m now keenly interested to learn what parts of a sheep are prepared in what way by people who make haggis, so I can apply the methods with parallel ingredients taken from caribou. Who knows? Tuktuviniq (caribou) haggis might eventually be exported to Scotland!

Eating haggis in London was what swept me into the world of Scottish cuisine, and I will eat this dish any chance I get. My body seems to have a deep craving for haggis, perhaps because the Scottish parts of me have a lifetime’s worth of eating it to catch up on. And, for me, there’s no contradiction in being a connoisseur of both igunaq (fermented meat), and caribou haggis.

I’m listening more often to Scottish dance music. From the earliest days of contact with whalers and traders, Inuit have danced to Scottish jigs and reels. Many are played to a beat fast enough for Ungava coast dancers to do some damage to the dance floor when they tap to its beat. Previously, I had regarded slow airs, strathspeys, marches and Gaelic waltzes as lively-rhythm-challenged sukkaitunngajaat (tunes played to reserved, deliberate slowness). Now, even these sound great!

There’s a tune the Scots call My Love She’s But A Lassie Yet, which I’ve heard played as Fisherman’s Reel by musicians in Atlantic Canada. The Inuit of Puvirnituq call the same tune Aviliajuapii Pimmaajaa. The tune Soldier’s Joy would have the alternate Inuktitut name of Arnamingai Sivurarmikamai, which would be translated as (What Joy It Is) To Have a Woman In Front of Me! Perhaps I can take this up with the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society sometime, and ask if they’d consider adopting Inuktitut names for some of their standard tunes.

These days, I often find myself humming tunes which I seemed to have known eons ago, in another age beyond memory, but had long forgotten. These are tusarnitualuit (greatly pleasant to the ear) Scottish jigs and reels, and they seem to take great pleasure in re-introducing themselves to me!

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