Montreal's Derek Dammann (Maison Publique) took part in an unusual collaborative dinner at Mallard Cottage in Newfoundland yesterday to showcase a vital Canadian food source: seal.
If host Todd Perrin, the chef/owner of Mallard Cottage in Quidi Vidi Village, Dammann and the likes of Jesse Vergen (St. John Ale House, New Brunswick), Jeremy Charles (Raymonds, St. John's) and Sean Hussey (Chinched Bistro, St. John's) have a say, however, the controversial protein will no longer fall under the label "unusual" but will, indeed, comprise a place at the mainstream Canadian table.
As Perrin told Dammann cookbook collaborator Chris Johns and The Globe and Mail recently:
People have very strong opinions about the seal harvest and what goes on. It's a resource that's harvested by fishermen around the coast, it's part of their lives.
To quote Dammann from the same article:
It's a carefully regulated harvest. And no different in that sense from harvesting any other game and maybe better than commercially raised animals.
The multi-course dinner did not take place inside a vacuum. A video crew was on hand to record the event, plate by plate, and Montreal food writer, The Globe and Mail contributor and The Fruit Hunters auteur Adam Gollner was in attendance.
Dammann spoke to Eater Montreal today from Newfoundland: "It was an amazing gig man. We got in fresh seals whole. Too cool. The facts about how destructive the overpopulation is is so interesting."
"It's so important to the culture here. People were pissed they couldn't come and that it was sold out. The Pope actually deemed seal a fish in Newfoundland so that they could eat it on Good Friday."