Boiled Sea-Slugs.

This is a transcript of the George Hunt translation of the sea-slug recipe, as narrated in the Kwakuitl Language, by his wife Elie Hunt, circa 1913. Part 1, is the catching, Part 2 is the cooking & Part 3 is the serving.

(Catching sea-slugs).

When a man wants to take sea-slugs, he first goes for a thin shaft which is used by the salmon fishers. He takes two thin cedar sticks, each one a short span long and a little thinner than the little finger, flat on one side and he takes cedar-bark and splits it in narrow strips. The two cedar-sticks are to be hooks at the end of the sea-slug spear. He puts these near the end of the harpoon-shaft, and ties them on with split long strips of cedar-bark. When it is finished, it is this way: [A simple illustration is omitted, of spear with hook lashed on end].

Then he waits for it to be calm at low tide. When it is calm, he launches his sea-slug-gathering canoe. He takes his sea-slug-gathering paddle, and his knife for cutting off the heads of sea slugs, and also the stick for catching sea-slugs. Then he paddles to a place where he knows there are many sea-slugs. He looks down into the water; and when he sees a place where there are many of them together, he takes his stick for catching sea-slugs and pushes it down into the water. He pushes the hook-end under the sea-slugs. Then it comes up lying crosswise over his canoe.

He takes the sea-slug, takes his knife, and cuts off the neck. Then he squeezes out the insides, and he throws it down hard into his canoe, saying as he is throwing it down, "Now you will be as stiff as the wedge of your grandfather". He does this to each of them, and says so as he throws the sea-slugs into his canoe. When he has caught many of them, he goes home.

As soon as he arrives on the beach of his house, his wife takes a basket and goes to meet him and carry up what he has. She puts her basket into the small canoe; and the woman takes one of the sea-slugs, squeezes down the whole length of its body, holding it by the hind part, the head downward; and when what is left of the insides has come out, he throws it into the basket. He does this to all of them.

(Cooking sea-slugs).

When they are all in, she carries her basket of sea-slugs up the beach and takes it into the house. Then she takes a large low steaming box and pours some fresh water into it. When it is half full, she takes the basket of sea-slugs and pours them into the water in the box. She leaves them there for two nights with the water over them. They are ready to be boiled.

The man takes the kettle for boiling sea-slugs and pours water into it until it is half full. He puts it over the fire; and when the kettle for boiling sea-slugs is on the fire with the sea-slugs in it, he goes into the woods and breaks off hemlock-branches. He carries these back and puts them down where the sea-slugs are boiling in the kettle. After he has done so, he takes the low steaming-box in which the sea-slugs are, and places it by the side of the fire, and also the tongs. When the water begins to boil, his wife takes one of the sea-slugs and squeezes the body so that the liquid comes out from the inside.

Then she puts it in the boiling water. Her husband stirs it with the tongs. The woman squeezes out the whole number of sea-slugs; and when they are all in the kettle, the man continues to stir them. When the water begins to boil, the man picks up handfuls of dirt from the floor of the house and throws it into the boiling water. Then it stops boiling over, for the water of the sea-slugs almost always boils over, and only the dirt from the floor of the house stops the boiling-over.

The man tries to take hold of one of them with the tongs; and when he succeeds in taking one, it is done. The skin gets rough when it is done. The (sea-slugs) are slippery when they are raw, and he can not get hold of them with his tongs. When they are done, he takes off the fire the kettle for cooking sea-slugs. He takes a large dish and puts it by the side of the kettle. He pours some water into it; and when it is more than half full of water, he takes the tongs, lifts up the sea-slugs, and puts them into the dish for washing the boiled slugs. As soon as they are all in, the man sits down by its side and washes them, they being stiff.

(Serving sea-slugs).

After he has washed one of them, he gives it to one of his guests to eat first a sea-slug; and the one to whom the first sea-slug is given eats it at once. The man washes the sea-slugs quickly, and gives one to the second man; and he continues doing this with his other guests; and when the first one finishes eating a sea-slug. he is given another one.

After they have eaten enough, they take some to their wives, for sea-slugs are only eaten in the winter, when they are good. They are bad in the summer. That is about one way of cooking sea-slugs.


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