Eating Seal at La Traite, Quebec
La Traite, a restaurant on a Wendake (essentially Huron) reservation in Quebec, focuses the menu upon food items that incorporate ingredients that might have been eaten by the earlier inhabitants of this land, the aptly titled First Nations people. Before lunch, we had some sausage, both formed and loose-tartare-like, made of seal. Seal seems to be one of the few wild and undomesticated foods that can be served in Canadian restaurants; as in the US, there are regs that dictate that most meat served in restaurants must come from farms, but seal is an exception. I was told that it was harvested by First Nations people (likely Inuit) and is available only during limited times of the year. If I had to compare seal to any commonly known meats, I’d say it’s closest to beef, though there is a slight gaminess (for lack of a better word, and there really are not enough words – at least at my disposal – to distinguish beef from bison from seal, etc.). I understand that seal is supposed to be “briny,” and this meat was salty, but I couldn’t determine if that was the meat’s natural flavor or if the salt added as part of the sausage making process. The seal meat was not fatty at all (which I’d kind of thought it would be), though that lack of fat could have something to do with the cut (if there even are “cuts” of seal meat).
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