Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Edible Plants "Negaasget"

For many years the Yup’ik Eskimos have picked various edible plants in southwestern Alaska. Between September and early November people pick “negaasget” commonly called “mouse food’’ from the tundra. It is called mouse food because mice collect these roots and store them for their winter food. It is picked before the tundra freezes. The mouse food comes from roots that grow under the tundra and they’re one to two inches in length. These pictures show mouse food that was picked over the weekend.

Usually people will pick mouse food in large quantities and wash them throughout the entire day. It is cooked with water until it becomes soft and easy to break apart. The excess mouse food is stored in Ziploc bags and then frozen. Ziploc bags are used for storing several types of subsistence food in the village. Mouse food is commonly turned into an Eskimo ice-cream dessert called “akutaq”. There are many ways to enjoy mouse food. Some people will remove it from the freezer and cook it again. It’s used like an extra vegetable when cooking bird or seal soup. Some people will eat it simply by dipping it in seal oil.


skipvia said...

Fascinating information and excellent pictures! This is food source that I was not aware of before reading your post. I hope you are aware of the incredible resource that you are building with your blog. You've done an excellent job telling the story of Kongiganak and educating people around the world about village and subsistence life styles. I particularly appreciate learning the Yup'ik words that you include in your posts.

blogger said...

I like agutaq with mouse food best. Mouse food always reminds me of "wild rice" of northern Midwest wetlands; not rice at all but a grass seed.

I didn't know it had to be cooked first for use. The "wild rice" has to be cooked for awhile, too.

Any idea if the "mouse" is really one of the arctic voles (look like tailless "mice")?

By the way, any chance you could switch your commenting options to allow those without Google/blogger accounts (I have trouble logging in). I enjoy your posts, too.


darleneulak said...

smmmm, that's one thing I did not get this fall. I really like it in seal soup. Those looks so fresh and yummy.

arleneann said...

did anyone see the new mouse food that there gathering? and has anyone tried the new roots??