Cod tongue in cheek

28 Feb 2013

By Randall Shirley
Courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission


When I ask the owner of a very local diner in tiny Port au Choix where the moose came from for the delicious moose burger I’ve just wolfed down, she tells me she hunted it herself. I clearly realize that dining in Newfoundland is not like anyplace else I’ve travelled before.

I feel the same when someone puts cod tongues in front of me. Ditto the French fries covered in dressing and gravy – yes, the kind of dressing that usually accompanies a holiday turkey.

While Newfoundland offers me all the food trappings of modern Canadian society, it’s the cuisine created during a time when the rest of the world was much less accessible that really tickles my taste buds.

Variations on many of the items below can be found in a selection of local eateries. In St. John’s, and worth special note: Bacalao serves astonishingly delicious “nouveau Newfoundland” cuisine. The Duke of Duckworth does great cod ’n’ chips (ask for dressing and gravy). Further afield, I enjoy the local specialties at the Sea Echo Motel’s restaurant in tiny Port au Choix, and The Lightkeeper’s in St. Anthony. Ask locally for other eateries.

  • Moose. The red meat of this forest beast is a bit richer than beef. When available, the moose burger at Sea Echo Motel is a true treat. You might also find upscale preparations of moose at Bacalao.
  • Fries, dressing and gravy. When you see fries on a Newfoundland menu, dressing and gravy are usually nearby.
  • Cod tongues. Exactly what it says. The tongue is usually cut into bite-size pieces, breaded and fried along with scrunchions (see below).
  • Scrunchions. Often served with cod tongues or as a salty accompaniment to other dishes, scrunchions is simply pork fat and salt, fried together until it turns to crispy, yummy little nuggets.
  • Jigg’s Dinner. Sample all the bits of this traditional Sunday meal – salt meat, pease pudding, potatoes, turnips, cabbage and the boiling liquid called “pot liquor” – at Bacalao.
  • Caribou. This flavourful flesh generally comes from Labrador, but is available on the menu at Bacalao in St. John’s.
  • Bakeapple. Often prepared as a jam, this fruit, which has a few other names including cloudberry, resembles the raspberry, but is more orange in colour. If you don’t see it on the menu as an ice cream sundae or cheesecake topping, ask if they have some available.