… From Travel Educator Susan McKee
I write a regular blog – Road Trips for Foodies – so I’m always sniffing out indigenous cooking. On a trip last July to the Yukon Territory of Canada, I was wandering past the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre in Dawson City when the delicious aroma of bannock caught my attention. What’s a traditional Scottish treat doing up in the Yukon Territory?
The building, owned by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, a First Nations people of the region, houses a museum and gathering areas. I was headed there to see an exhibit called “Stitching First Nation Society Together”. Because indoor tasks are best suited for a long, cold winter, beading and other forms of stitchery are popular in the northern reaches of Canada. Leather jackets with embellished yokes, boots with elaborate cuffs and snuggly baby bags with fanciful flowers were on display.
But…the bannock lured me back outside. The young woman cooking the bread explained that the foodstuff was brought to Canada in the mid-1880s by Scots working for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Because it was so easy to cook and transport, it became popular among the hunters and trappers (who spent many months traveling) and was quickly adopted by the native First Nations people.
The Scottish bannocks of the 19th century were heavy, flat cakes of unleavened barley or oatmeal dough formed into a round or oval shape, then cooked on a griddle. Bannock, however, is an Old English word of Celtic origin, said to derive from panicium, a Latin word for baked goods. Its first use was recorded at the turn of the first millennium.
Whether the Yukon’s bannock came from Scotland, or was an adaptation of the typical fry bread made by indigenous peoples on both sides of the U.S./Canadian border, it doesn’t really matter to Road Trip Foodies (it’s the eating we love best).
Here’s the recipe I copied down in Dawson City:
3 cups flour
2 level teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat some cooking oil in a frying pan. Mix together with about 3 cups of water, stirring until the batter is smooth. Scoop a large spoonful of dough into the frying pan and flatten it. Cook, turning once, until both sides are golden brown. Serve with “butter, jam or anything else that would go great with bannock”.
If you’re ready to go to Dawson City, start your planning here. (www.dawsoncity.ca).