Author: Faubel, Carolyn

I love to read, and to write.

A book creates a world with all the sensory elements we experience in the real life, some doing it better than others. It’s not easy to use words on a page to describe a smell, a sound, a taste. In stories I have written, I’ve tried to make the reader hear the most beautiful music, feel the softest material, taste something delicious. But it’s not easy, and it’s hard to find fresh words to describe the sensations.
But sometimes, just a word in a book can bring a sense alive that is total fantasy. When I was a kid, I came across that word, and it was Pemmican.

“Two Against the North,” by Farley Mowat, was one of my favorite books to read and re-read. It was the first time I had come across the word. Pg. 108 and 109 describes it as: “…wizened little berries,…partly dried. The drying process was completed over the fire so the berries would not ferment later on. … mixed them with ground-up deermeat (that they had pulverized between two stones) and with boiling hot deer fat. This rather sickening-looking mixture was then poured out to cool in slabs, and the slabs carefully wrapped...”

It didn’t matter, the word “sickening-looking.” I just skimmed right over that. It sounded COOL! The perfect trail food. In my mind, it was not a greasy, mouth-coating, fibrous hunk peppered with sour bits. It was a cross between…

Have you ever had a “peanut patty?” It is an old-fashion candy that is shaped into a round, flat little pat. The sweet matrix is a soft, translucent, pink material that holds shelled peanuts in a nubby suspension. I was never all that fond of them, but they were sure cute, and I could appreciate their novel make up.

What was much better was a Cadbury “Fruit and Nut Bar.” As far as I knew, they only came family-size, which was good because we always got one as a family. The big milk chocolate slab was scored into small squares for breaking off individual pieces. Nuts and raisins were embedded in the chocolate. With one nice bite, you got the sweet chocolate, the tangy-sweet raisins, and the rich, crunchy nuts.

So I just couldn’t shake the feeling that pemmican was a cross between a Peanut Patty and a Cadbury Fruit and Nut Bar. And what is strange is that even now, I have a hard time imagining that pemmican isn’t a tasty treat. Maybe it’s partly the name. Pemmican. When you say it, it makes you sound like an insider. Like an experienced wilderness adventurer. Maybe it should be called “Rancid Lard and Protein Slabs.”

I’m not sure if I ever want to REALLY have some authentic pemmican. It would certainly destroy my fantasy.

Perhaps, to keep my fantasy intact, I shall have to come up with my own pemmican recipe, made in a more civilized manner. Stay tuned!

Posted:  2/26/2011

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