Posted in Foodstuffs, Nunavut

Clams from Qikiqtarjuaq

Qik Clams 01

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that my wife had purchased some clams that were harvested offshore from the tiny community of Qikiqtarjuaq. She bought two bags, totaling about 50 clams or so, and you can see one bag, and a few of the clams, in the above picture.

Most people are not aware of it, but the term clam is not a precise zoological name for a particular species but is rather a very broad general term for a whole range of similar, but not necessarily closely related, type of shellfish. I have no idea what particular species is harvested up in Qikiqtarjuaq. The variety has a very pronounced (and rather phallic looking) extension that is sometimes called the ‘neck’ but which is, in fact, a siphon by which the clam ingests seawater and extracts the plankton which makes up its diet. In this feature, it is very similar to the Geoduck (pronounced ‘gooey duck’) and the Horse Clam (or ‘Gaper’), but both these species are native to the Pacific Coast as far as I know and so that would seem to rule them out. I rather thought, after doing a little research, that these clams may be a northern variety of Quahog know as Arctica islandica, but they have the same sort of thin very fragile shell that is called a ‘soft-shell’ (in contrast to the hard shell quahogs), so I really am at a loss. In any event, these clams are sufficiently representative of the whole broad class that we can make some pretty good observations about clams in general… Continue reading “Clams from Qikiqtarjuaq”

Posted in Nunavut, Travel

Travels: Prague vs. Qikiqtarjuaq

In about three hours from now, my wife will be winging her way south to Ottawa to make a connecting flight that will eventually see her arrive in Prague for ten days. I, on the other hand, get the weekend at home but will then be travelling north on yet another Court circuit to Qikiqtarjuaq early on Monday morning.

Oh, the picture, by the way, is a view from Qikiqtarjuaq *not* Prague, in case you were wondering…

Each year, my wife travels on business to Vancouver (a place I love) and also to two exotic overseas destinations to boot. People always ask me what she does on these business trips and I am ashamed to admit that I’m not totally clear on the whole thing myself… it has something to do with a Committee on Internet protocols and assigning domain names (or so she tells me), but I am actually leaning towards the theory that she is, in reality, an international assassin.

Anyway, in the last few years, to name a few places, she has visited Delhi, Cairo, Singapore and, now, Prague in the Czech Republic. I have repeatedly told her how lucky she is and she has just responded by saying ‘Well… you get to travel too, don’t you?’

True… but when I think of her sipping a Pilsner whilst enjoying the beautiful architecture of an old-world city I can’t help but feel a little envious. The barren emptiness of a remote Arctic island may have its own beauty, but I also face the very real prospect of having to share a tiny hotel room with a 300lb construction worker who snores like or a chainsaw or (even worse) ‘just wants to cuddle’… Somehow, the comparison seems a bit uneven, it seems to me.

Well, moaning aside, I come to the point of this post, which is to ask my readers for a little help:

On each trip my wife takes, I usually ask her to try out some delicacy native to her destination and then report back to me (ideally with pictures). I also often get her to try and buy some foodstuff or other that is unavailable here in Canada. For this trip, however, I am at a loss, as I know almost nothing about Czech cuisine…

Can any of my well-travelled readers suggest some special Czech foods that my wife should try and enjoy whilst she is in Prague and (even better) let us know about any particular native delicacies that might survive the trip back to Canada? Please let me know of anything you can think of over the next few days so that I can ‘skype’ the suggestions to her directly.

Oh, finally… the Qikiqtarjuaq picture is an old one taken just a few hundred yards away from the local hotel. I will take some more current pictures on my upcoming trip so I can properly introduce the place to you all once I return…