An old Kwakuitl recipe, as narrated in the Kwakuitl language by Elie Hunt and translated into English by her husband, George Hunt, circa 1908.

Fresh Halibut Heads and Backbone.

June 20, 1995
Sometimes the woman boils the heads (of halibut) and invites the friends of her husband.

When the men are invited, his wife takes the halibut heads and puts them on a log on the floor. Then she takes an ax and chops them in pieces. The pieces are not very small. Then she puts them into a kettle. Then she takes the backbone and breaks it to pieces. Then she also puts it into the kettle.

As soon as the kettle is full, she takes a bucket of water and empties it into it. The water hardly shows among them when she puts it on the fire. She does not touch it; but when it has been boiling a long time, she takes it off.

Then she takes here large ladle and also dishes, and she dips it out into the dishes with her large ladle. As soon as all the dishes are full, she takes her spoons and gives one to each guest, an she spreads a food-mat in front of them. As last she takes up the dish and puts it down in front of her guests.

Immediately they all eat with spoons; and after they have eaten with spoons, the wife of the host takes other small dishes and puts them down between the men and the food-dish. This is called "receptacle for the bones." As soon as the guests find a bone, they throw it into the small dish; and they keep on doing this while they are eating. After they have finished eating with spoons, they put their spoons into the dish from which they have been eating.

Then they take the small dish in which the bones are, and put it down where the large dish had been, and they pickup the bones with their hands and put them into their mouths and chew them. Therefore this is called "chewed;" namely, boiled halibut-head.

They chew it for a long time and suck at it; and after they finish sucking out the fat, they blow out the sucked bones; and they do not stop until all the bones have been sucked out.

They the woman takes the small dishes and washes them out, and she pours some water into them down again before the guests. Then they wash their hands. As soon as they have done so, they drink; and after they have finished drinking, they go out. Then they finish eating the halibut-heads.

Halibut-heads are not food for the morning, for they are too fat. They only eat them at noon and in the evening, because they are very fat; that is the reason why they are afraid to eat them, that it makes one sleepy.


Please send me email! My email address is:

To Bruce Hallman's home page.