Northerners contribute to award-winning cookbook

EALLU - Food, Knowledge and How We Have Thrived on the Margins won best food book of the year at the Gourmand International Cookbook Awards.

14 Arctic Indigenous food cultures represented in Arctic Council project

Jacey Firth-Hagen, left, and Chantal Gruben cut reindeer meat in Norway. (Submitted by Chantal Gruben)

A Tuktoyaktuk woman is thrilled to learn the cookbook she collaborated on has won first place for best food book of the year at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

"It's unbelievable," said Chantal Gruben. "I found out on Facebook ... it was shocking."

The book is called EALLU - Food, Knowledge and How We Have Thrived on the Margins.

It included 50 contributors representing "14 Arctic Indigenous peoples' food cultures in one volume," according to a press release from the Association of World Reindeer Herders, which led the Arctic Council project.

The awards were presented on May 26 in Yantai, China.

The word "eallu," which means herd of reindeer in the Sami language, is closely related to the Sami word for "life."

Cookbook contribution began in Norway

Gruben, 27, said her contributions began when she was invited to represent Inuvialuit last January at a reindeer-herding conference with other delegates from Arctic countries.

She left Canada for the first time to attend the 10-day event, which was in Norway, and brought a caribou meat gravy recipe for the book.

The country had a lot of similarities to Northern Canada, she said.

"It was like the same latitude as Sachs Harbour, so it was kind of cold," said Gruben. "They brought us to ... visit a reindeer herd. It was amazing."

Two other Northerners also visited Norway and helped make the book. One of them was Jacey Firth-Hagen, who runs a Facebook page focused on reviving the Gwich'in language.

Firth-Hagen said her mother and auntie helped her write a recipe for a ceremonial Gwich'in mourning dish called itsuu, or caribou pemmican.

Gruben shared her recipe for the caribou meat gravy that she chose for the book with her grandmother, who raised her after her grandparents adopted her when she was two years old.

"It means a lot," she said. "She taught me, and her mother taught her."

Caribou meat gravy

(serves 2-4)


  • 1.5 cups diced caribou meat.
  • 1 cup of water.
  • 1 handful of flour.
  • Oil, as necessary.
  • Spices or soup mix, to taste.

Preparation and cooking:

  • Brown meat in pan on medium heat with oil.
  • Stir in flour, water, and spices or soup mix.
  • Bring to boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat and let gravy thicken as it stands.

With files from Wanda McLeod