Nfld. & Labrador

You've gotta know how to cook 'em: Seal flippers for sale in St. John's

Some people have been buying their annual feed of flippers for 30 years, while others are brand new to Taylor's Seafood truck.

Hoping to stay open at least a couple more weeks, depending on flipper supply and demand

Abraham Kean, 88, says the seal fishery wasn't for him, but a flipper is good if you know how to cook it right. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Abraham Kean's family has a long history with the Newfoundland and Labrador seal fishery, so he was sure to get to Taylor's Seafood truck in downtown St. John's to get his seal flippers.

Kean, 88, picked up his flippers Wednesday morning.

The biggest thing is just people to give it a try.- Jeremy Taylor

The Kean name has a long history in sealing. Kean's father was the captain of the Viking sealing ship, which exploded in 1931 and killed 28 men on board.

"He only barely made it himself," Kean said of his father, also Abraham.

When he was younger, Kean himself tried his hand at sealing, but decided he "wasn't too fussy about it."

Taylor's Seafood truck is down on Harbour Drive in St. John's this week, selling seal flippers while stock lasts. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

"I didn't like the idea of killing the seals on a Sunday, that was one thing. I didn't like that. And many other things I didn't like," he said.

"You didn't know when you was gonna be caught out on the ice, a storm or something."

But that doesn't mean he doesn't want to get his feed of flippers.

Ted Brown says he's been buying seal flippers every season for 30 years, and his wife cooks up a mean flipper stew. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

"They're not too bad, if you know the way to cook them," he said. "Some knows a better way than others."

Others, like Ted Brown, made sure to stop by the truck this week, as he's done every sealing season for 30 years.

"I loves 'em," Brown said of seal flippers.

"The taste and the stew that you get off them, it's gorgeous."

The photo may look unappealing to some, but everyone buying seal flippers from Taylor's Seafood truck says you just have to know how to properly cook a seal flipper. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

'We're getting pretty busy'

Jeremy Taylor opened the van's doors on Friday and said since then, he's been flat out.

"We've been pretty busy over the weekend and we got more shipments here on Monday, and we're going back out on the road today so we're getting pretty busy with it," said Taylor.

It's hard to say how long they'll be able to stay open this year, Taylor said, given the ice conditions and how long it takes the boats to get in and out of harbour.

People lined up to buy their seal flippers from Taylor's Seafood truck in St. John's Wednesday morning. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

But he's hopeful it will last a little longer.

"Right now we've got enough supplies here for the next week or 10 days, with more boats coming in the next two or three days and we're gonna be good for hopefully at least two weeks for sure, maybe a little longer," he told CBC's St. John's Morning Show.

'It's going pretty good'

Taylor said the number of customers changes each year, with some old faces going away, but there are plenty of new customers giving seal flippers a shot.

Ted Brown buys his annual feed of seal flippers. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

"The market changes," he said. "But it seems like some of the newer people, younger ones are trying it because I guess the health factor and stuff, so it's going pretty good."

His favourite way to eat seal flipper is the old fashioned way: in a pie.

But he encourages anyone who has never eaten it to at least give the local delicacy a chance.

"If it's cooked right and you give it a try, you'll grow to like it and probably have some more."

With files from Bruce Tilley and the St. John's Morning Show