Food and firelighting

My friend Dirk called me one day last week to say he was sick and to ask if I could act as a guide for the group he had staying.  Of course I agreed.

I took the group to the Polar Circle near to Nattavaara, where I talked about some useful plants for food and medicine, talked a bit about Sami culture and demonstrated making fire without matches and then of course we made coffee

The group were very friendly and keen to learn and have fun

We returned to Dirk’s where I demonstrated a variety of ways to make fire and tinders to use and two people were successful at producing fire with the bow-drill.  We were planning to cook a meal in the ground so we built a large fire and put in rocks to heat them

I prepared a hole into which the hot stones and food would be placed

and after the fire had been burning for two hours the rocks were very hot and ready for cooking the food

The food to be cooked was Salmon, wild mushrooms and berries and herbs from the garden

The Salmon was cut into pieces and wrapped in Birch bark with berries, herbs and mushrooms

The parcels were tied up with Birch twigs

The hot rocks and bark parcels were then placed in the hole and turf put on top

While the parcels were cooking I demonstrated a primitive way of boiling water and cooking using some hot rocks in a Birch bark kettle I had made

After about 50 minutes the parcels were cooked and ready to be removed

and here is the end result


5 thoughts on “Food and firelighting

  1. I knew that the Polynesians cooked this way, and my son and I tried it last year.

    I find it fascinating that the Sami used essentially the same technique. Had I known, we would have used birch bark & twigs instead of corn husks. Our climate here is far more similar to Lap(Fen)land than Polynesia. I wonder how many other cultures have used a variant of this technique.

    I also really like your fire platform. Maybe I’ll build one of those in the backyard one of these days.

  2. I once helped separate the hot rocks from the fire remains ready for cooking in a hole in someone’s lawn in Wainuiomata near Wellington. The heat was staggering. Most guys had a wet towel on their foreheads. Choosing the rocks takes care as some shatter when heated.

    The cook, a professional chef, lined a large, wire bread basket with the bases of cabbages – the bits you cut away before cooking the cabbage. He used these in the absence of banana leaves. Pork and chicken went into the bottom basket and vegetables went in the upper basket. One of his mother’s sheets went over the food and then some bits of carpet (I think). We covered the lot with the dirt from the hole and left it for a couple of hours or so. The food was delicious but with a slightly odd steamed feeling.

    I always meant to have a go back home and am interested to see that birch can take the place of the banana leaves.

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