The blizzard is rather low, drifting now, and the cold wind continued. I did not care to risk freezing the dogs’ shanks and did not travel today. We have been living on beans, rice, pemmican and doughnuts, but are now returning to peameal, bacon, and pemmican. Arnout cooked a meal of peameal tonight. It was the most nauseating dish I have ever eaten, but with perseverance I might be able to eat it and enjoy it later on. One has to overcome dislikes and distasteful things in this country whether one likes it or not.
George Hubert Wilkins
Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College
Contrary to Stefansson’s claims to be successful at living off the country, most of the time his Northern Party teams survived on food that they carried with them. Hunting game was a big part of their diet, but without the staples of dried or canned food from the south, they would not have survived.
This diary entry reminds me of the time I was travelling in the Arctic with Looty Pijamini, from Grise Fiord, now a well-known artist and carver. We were travelling by snowmobile at night after being delayed by several days of blizzards, and anxious to get back to our home camp. When we finally decided to stop before getting lost in the unknown terrain, we were too tired to make the effort to cook a meal. That night Looty and I dined on uncooked freeze-dried beef steaks, spread with strawberry jam that was scavenged from a 1961 army survey cache! Yes, you can enjoy what might otherwise be considered “distasteful things” in this country.