5 Things Worth Chewing On

Enjoy these morsels of information about traditional NL food.

Jiggs Dinner
This classic menu item got its name from a British comic strip character. “Bringing Up Father” (later called “Jiggs and Maggie”) was a cartoon created in 1913 by George McManus. It ran globally in syndication until 2000. The main character was an Irishman named Jiggs, and his favourite meal was corned beef and cabbage. In NL, Jiggs dinner features salt meat (corned beef) and cabbage, as well as other root vegetables, pease pudding. Depending on who’s cooking, it might also include figgy duff, a meat such as roast beef, turkey or chicken, and gravy – though some call this “cooked dinner,” and the difference of opinions on that can lead to very animated table talk.

Figgy Duff
It is not named after the famous 1970s folk group founded by Noel Dinn and whose members are NL music legends today. And it does not contain figs. A duff is a pudding cooked by boiling it in a bag, wrapped in cheesecloth, or in a pudding can – usually in the same pot as the supper vegetables. Traditionally, it would contain raisins or local berries (often blueberries or partridgeberries). The Cornish called raisins “figs” and they have a raisin pudding recipe called Figgy Hobbin. It may have been immigrants from Cornwall who brought this recipe to NL with them.

“Have a touton or go without ’en” was a well-known catch phrase of a former restaurant in St. John’s. This doughy delicacy goes by several names, depending on where they’re made. It is known as fried dough (a very literal name, for it is bread dough fried in butter, oil or, traditionally, fat back pork), tiffin, bangbelly or damper dog. It is enjoyed with various toppings, from scruncheons to molasses, maple syrup, butter, berry jam or clotted cream (or combinations of any of these).

Hard Tack
This small cake of unsalted, kiln dried bread sustained fishermen at sea and men working in the woods. Teething babies chewed on it. Soaked in hot water, it becomes brewis, topped with scruncheons and sometimes sugar, and served with boiled fish. It’s also called hard bread; whereas sweet bread (a.k.a excursion biscuits) has added sugar and is softer. Both of these are made by Purity Products of NL.

If the recipe calls for “fish” or someone invites you over for a meal of “fish,” it’s cod. All “fish” or “salt fish” is cod. All other fish go by their name: salmon, mackerel, herring etc.

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