Tag Archives: smoked salmon

West coastin’ – Part II

As promised: fish and sweaters! But not fish in sweaters….

Chinook salmon could be classified as pretty intimidating fish, I guess.  They have hooked jaws, can swim up stream, and after they breed, they die (pretty badass).  It once took my boyfriend’s grandfather three hours to fight a salmon into his boat after it was hooked.  While I have done my share of fishing in Ontario lakes, I was told by all my hosts that I could never really know how it felt to have a salmon strike my lure until it actually happened….  and then it did… thrice.

Playing and catching a 26lb game fish is satisfying, even if your adrenaline keeps pumping 10 minutes after the thing’s in the boat.  I’ve even felt the agony of defeat, when after a bite-less morning I finally had a fish on, only for it to swim away with most of my reel, get tangled in a trolling boat, and snap my line.

Possibly more fulfilling than the catch, though, is what you get to do after.  No… after the gutting….  EATING!  I thought I knew what smoked salmon was about until my boyfriend brought over cans that were home caught and home-smoked.  If I lived close enough to an ocean, it would be a sin not to own a smoker or know how to use one.

Now my very own catch has gone from this:

to dozens of these stuffed into every crevice of my suitcase:

Canning and preserving might seem soooo 18th century, but the idea of saving and collecting the freshness of spring and summer into jars sure does appeal to me.  While Italian families like mine might nowadays can tomato sauce or artichokes and eat them a month or two later, imagine what opening a fresh can in the dead of winter would feel like when there wasn’t a vegetable or fishing hole around in sight.  I guess that’s what globalization gets you, but I think canning is a habit and craft that has the ability to make us appreciate what we have and when we have it a lot more than we do these days.  I should probably take it up some time…

I also promised you sweaters.  Cowichan sweaters to be exact.

Badly ripped off by TNA, the REAL Cowichan sweater originates from the Cowichan Valley in southern Van Isle.  The yarn itself it pretty amazing: a rough, bulky yarn knit real tight making these sweaters really heavy.  They are made by Native artists, sans pattern, on many short double pointed needles, in the round. This is what amazed me the most.  No circulars for these ladies.

While the sizes can be a little wonky due to the free form, these sweaters are in high demand.  Figuring this would be a great time to get one of my own, we headed to my boyfriend’s aunt’s Native craft shop/gallery to find one.  I was regretfully informed that there was already a waiting list for sweaters, and that if I added my name and sizes I might get mine in three months.  They have only two knitters supplying them these days, a worrisome sign that the craft is waning in the community.  The artist who knit the sweater above has since passed away.  Out of  her three daughters only one can knit sweaters.  I’ll add my name to that list sooner than later.  I’m thinking I would like whales…

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