Akutaq for Snack

t’s here! Friday is finally here! And what better way to kick it off than with a little akutaq?
Akutaq (a-goo-duk), also known as Eskimo ice cream, is a classic Yupik dessert. I first heard about it from a student during the first week of school. One of my kindergarteners asked me, “Have you ever tried akutaq before?” When I told her no, she gushed about how tasty it is and promised to bring some during her snack week. This week was finally her week to bring snack! She brought in a heaping bowl full of a creamy, colorful mixture.
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I filled my cup, dipped in my spoon, and savored a mouthful of full whipped goodness. “Yum!” I said, “This is delicious! What’s in it?” Tracy, an aid in my classroom, replied, “Fish, salmonberries, strawberries, raisins. Oh, and lard.” I took the spoon out of my mouth for a second and processed what I had just swallowed. Then, I rolled my eyes, threw up my hands, and thought, “When in Newhalen!” I  dug in.
Apparently, there’s no specific recipe for akutaq. Every family has their own way of making it. Some prefer rice, some prefer moose, and some prefer fish. The blend is traditionally made with animal fat, but Crisco is now the modern day substitution. I must admit, it was pretty darn good. It wasn’t a taste I’m used to, but I can see why native people consider it a special treat.
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Of course, my kindergarteners gobbled up their portions. They loved it! If you’ve been following my Facebook page recently, you’ve seen that my students have also eaten dry fish and cheesecake for snack in the past couple weeks. Our parents go all out and the kids are in heaven! Their teacher’s pretty happy, too!
Here’s to living in Bush Alaska.

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