(Sarah, class of AVC 2015 , travelled to Sheshatshiu and Rigolet and writes about the culinary pleasures of travelling in Labrador)
Salmon cakes, Baked mac and cheese, BBQ chicken, Chili dinner, Chicken Caesar salad, Turkey dinner with all the fixings – what this sounds like is the menu to a comfort food restaurant that you’d come across after a 15+ hour trek through the South (of the United States that is) and think “why go on- I have all I need?” But no, these were just some of the delicious meals prepared by the wonderful women of Rigolet – who took several hours of their day to treat us like Queens and a King (…Jason, the only guy on our part of the trip).
When we were planning this trip, I was imagining sleeping on cabin floors in sleeping bags and living off granola bars and maybe not showering regularly. “Prepare for the worst, expect the best.” Isn’t that the old saying? Honestly, one of my biggest fears going on this trip was eating granola bars for 7 days straight. I highly detest granola bars. I’m not a horse after all. Eating good food is a particular joy in my life.
So on the first day in Rigolet when Leighann and I were dropped off at our hostess’s house, I thought, well, I don’t have to worry about the not showering bit. We were definitely spoiled in our accommodations – wifi, television, breakfast in the mornings, comfy bed and two adorable dogs – Tango and Cash – to greet us in the morning.
And then it got better. On our first clinic day, we were told lunch was being prepared for us. Sometimes, I admit, I am a little trepidatious at trying new foods (usually unwarranted after the fact). We were brought some sort of beef soup. I’m not making it sound very appealing, I know, but it was amazing. Savory and warm, filled with vegetables in a tomato broth, I wanted to have third and fourth servings, but patients were beckoning.
The days following were the same. A new hearty meal to delight my oral palate. My professor tried to deter the ladies from bringing us food every day as there was always plenty after – I secretly hoped they would ignore her and often to my glee, they did. But even as left overs, these were still so much better than my fresh cooking on a good day.
My sister always told me when a song came on the radio, she could tell me something significant about her life that happened when that song was released that year. I do that with food. When I think of turkey, I recall our giant Thanksgiving meals spent with my huge noisy family. Ham and meatballs reminds me oddly of Christmas which is a more raucous version of Thanksgiving. Fish tacos take me back to Costa Rica on the trip I did with my best friends. And weirdly enough, hot cocoa, crackers and grapes on a platter reminds me of my dearly passed grandmother.
Food is my link to my memories. So when I think of Rigolet, I may remember vaguely the animals I spayed, the mountains and the Bay, the gravel paths, but first I’ll remember the women who got me to eat salmon cakes for the first time.