September 28, 2023

Do raisins belong in Indigenous cuisines?

Indigenous men and women really like a great discussion. What is that tasty flat bread created at powwows and in kitchens across Turtle Island identified as? Is it bannock, fry bread, scone or skaan? Is it most effective fried or baked? 

The dialogue will get more complex when you toss raisins into the mixing bowl — and it truly is sparked heated debates on social media.

Adhering to a month-long investigation into irrespective of whether or not raisins belong in regular and modern day Indigenous cuisines, CBC Indigenous has figured out that Indigenous palates are both grapeful for the minor dried fruit or they make one’s flavor buds shrivel up like a … properly, you know….

Raisin enthusiasts

Sherry Ann Rodgers, at first from the Anishnabe (Algonquin) community of Rapid Lake in western Quebec, opened the Anishnabe Kwe Café earlier this 12 months in Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, 136 kilometres north of Ottawa. 

Sherry Ann Rodgers utilizes a cast iron pan to fry her bannock. (Anishnabe Kwe Cafe/Facebook)

She would make and sells fried raisin bannock day by day. 

“We love our raisins,” Sherry Ann Rodgers said of her house local community.

“I grew up with raisin pie, fried raisin doughnuts and all that.”

Tim Fontaine also grew up taking in raisin pie. The Winnipeg-based mostly writer from Sagkeeng Very first Country even likes raisins in butter tarts and rice pudding.

Former journalist Tim Fontaine started off the satirical website Going for walks Eagle News to just take a humorous glimpse at the intricate partnership amongst Canada and Indigenous people. (Canadian Press)

“Raisin bannock isn’t my variety just one, but I really like it,” he stated.

“I know that on the Prairies, like in Manitoba and in Saskatchewan … you can find a great deal of raisin activity…. It truly is almost like Indigenous soul meals.”

‘Raisins are gross’

Minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller has frequented quite a few Indigenous communities in his job, and consequently has tried a great deal of bannock. CBC Indigenous questioned him to weigh in on the discussion.

“In the earlier, the minister has expressed a desire for a individual bannock seller at the Kahnawake powwow, which has only served to destruction relations with other very well revered bannock makers. Appropriately, no further more remark will be created,” study a statement from his business office.

“Also, raisins are gross.”

Bannock bakes in pans around an open fire in the course of Flavours of the North on Parliament HIll in Ottawa in December 2017. (Leah Hansen/CBC)

Outside of bannock, raisins have crept into regional dishes from coast to coastline to coastline like wild rice, standard soups, and even meat pies. 

Whilst Anishinaabe author Waubgeshig Rice enjoys consuming raisins on their personal, he is not a enthusiast when it arrives to introducing them to Indigenous foods like wild rice and skaan. 

“It preferences type of strange, feels form of weird,” he claimed.

“Even although I am opposed to them in some foodstuff, I am not extending any sort of vitriol or unwell inner thoughts to them or people who like them mainly because we adapt foodstuff to our personal delicacies and existence.”

A man stands looking at the camera with a backdrop of orange-coloured trees.
Waubgeshig Rice is establishing a sequel to his 2018 e book, Moon of the Crusted Snow, which was voted the winner of the 2019 Evergreen Award. ( Submitted by Waubgeshig Rice)

Bannock alone is a perfect instance of that, he suggests. 

Commodity food items

Even though lots of Indigenous nations across North The us customarily have some edition of bread, modern day bannock designed from wheat flour was launched by Scottish settlers.

Europeans also introduced the raisins we’re acquainted with from abroad, states 6 Nations of the Grand River chef Tawnya Brant.

Tawyna Brant is from Six Nations of the Grand River in southern Ontario.
Chef Tawyna Brant was a contestant on Year 10 of Leading Chef Canada. (

They’re also tied to a colonial historical past of poverty and marginalization. The extensive shelf life of a box of raisins produced them ideal commodity foodstuff that were sent to Indigenous American communities in the United States by government officials.

“There’s just so numerous things we do that we do not know why we do them. We just do them simply because that’s how it is really always been accomplished. And I consider that is kind of where raisins lie,” she claimed.

In Six Nations, raisins are added to Indian cookies — a spiced ginger cookie adopted from British influences. 

“I hated them rising up,” Brant explained about raisins.

That’s why is not going to uncover raisins in any food stuff served at her cafe Yawékon. She prefers to cook dinner with cranberries or blueberries as they are indigenous to the region. 

A dessert made with blueberry Indian cookies bread pudding.
Blueberry Indian cookies bread pudding served at Yawékon. (Yawékon/Facebook)

Nevertheless, she thinks the Kanien’kehá:ka, Cayuga, Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, and Tuscarora were traditionally most likely a confederacy of professional-raisin nations, way too.

“Harmony grapes are the only indigenous wide range of grapes that is developed domestically. All the rest of them all occur from Europe,” stated Brant.

“Raisins are something that arrived from a commodity food stuff. But it should not have been something that was absolutely out of our realm since drying was a massive factor for us…. We dried every little thing else. We dried strawberries and dried blueberries.”

Baked, not fried

Like Brant, Paul Natrall prefers cooking with cranberries above raisins when it arrives to the foods he can make at Mr. Bannock.

The Squamish Country chef has been operating the Vancouver foodstuff truck given that 2018.

He said it really is tough to deny the nostalgic inner thoughts that raisins evoke.

Paul Natrall is a chef from the Squamish Nation in British Columbia.
Paul Natrall opened the Mr. Bannock food items truck in 2018. (Mr. Bannock/Fb)

“My grandmother in fact utilised to love working with them,” claimed Natrall.

“You cannot defeat a refreshing baked bannock with raisins in there…. No matter whether you like it or not like it, it is really out there and persons genuinely get pleasure from it.”

For raisin fans like Fontaine, the relevance is about raisin recognition.

“You you should not even know what you happen to be hating,” he mentioned.

“Give it a test. You could possibly be amazed. If you will not, extra for us.”