Baie qu’appelle…?

A mason jar of jam has been sitting in our fridge since the summer, its contents slowly being savoured by my husband James. He came back from a fly fishing trip in Labrador not with salmon, but with this jar of bakeapple jam, given to him by one of the fishing guides. He reveres it, cherishes it, almost cossets the contents in a way I’ve never seen a food-stuff loved before. James loves fly fishing, but he rarely will fish and tell. I usually have to piece together the details with careful open-ended questions. I’m out of my league. But this morning, as he spread the jam on his buttered toast, it hit me. The story of the jam is my link: a flavourful portal onto the boys-club river. This is what he told me:

‘We had two guides in Labrador. This first one was Mr. Knowmore, otherwise known as the Great White Hunter. He is also a machinist who makes parts for heavy machinery at the Boisey’s Bay mine. The other guide, Eric Belben, was the main analogue technician for Labrador. Now he’s retired. They’re good friends. Boisey’s Bay was on strike while we were there, and the Great White Hunter didn’t want to sit around, so he offered to help guide.

We fished the Pinware – a brakish, swift river that flows through Labrador. The landscape is raw; uneven rocks and evergreens line river, and it was too wild to wade in some places. We were fishing for salmon using 9 foot 8 weight fly rods. Our flies were undertakers and black bears green butts. No skin was showing, but the black flies still drove us to insanity. We had to take the shortest, windiest pee brakes possible.

The Pinware is an open river, it’s not restricted so anyone can fish there. There are many pools, so you have to move around a lot. One pool is called the North West Shoot pool, accessible through a long walk through a low bush meadow. The Great White Hunter pointed out bakeapples growing in the field. Imagine a light-orange raspberry balancing on the end of a stalk, growing in clusters.

At the end of the week, the Great White Hunter gave me a jar of bakeapple jam. He made it himself.’

Bakeapple (Cloudberry)(Rubus Chamaemorus). ‘Bakeapple’, anglicized from the French, ‘baie qu’appelle…’ meaning, ‘what is this berry called..?’, is internationally known as a ‘Cloudberry’. It is similar in appearance to a rather large raspberry and has what some say a distinct honey/apricot-like flavour. Others claim its unique delectableness is beyond compare. The colour is orange/yellow and grows one berry to a plant approximately 3-4″ high. Bakeapples are members of the rose family having close relatives such as the raspberry, blackberry, nagoonberry, and thimbleberry. Male and female flowers grow separately with each plant growing a single white, five petalled flower from the tip of the stem. The fruit is red when unripe and turns a soft golden orange at maturity. They are generally ready for picking around mid August. Bakeapples occupy a variety of moist northern tundra and peat bog habitats. These berries are extremely rich in vitamin C and contain few calories. The juice has been used to treat hives.

Source: the Dark Tickle Company

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