MOUNTAIN LIFE - Blue Mountains | Summer 2019

70 FOOD COOK LIKE A VOYAGEUR Experience the bread and “energy bars” that fuelled the fur trade words & photo :: Carmen Kuntz Imagine canoe-tripping for a living. A paddle and canoe as tools of the trade, the river as an office. Paddle. Navigate. Survive. Now imagine the year is 1670. North America is a wild continent, and Europeans are exploring Canada, the resource-rich region they call New France, in search of furs to send back to Europe. Traversing the New World by canoe, these men were called coureurs des bois , which means “runners of the woods.” Predominantly of French or First Nation origin and sometimes referred to as voyageurs, they paddled and portaged across the continent acting as middlemen in the fur industry. Negotiating trade between Aboriginal groups who hunted and trapped the beaver, otter and fox, and the European businessmen waiting in ships on the east coast, the coureurs des bois had to be hardy and resourceful: businessmen yet survivalist. There were no wicking modern fabrics back then. And no dehydrated, vacuum-packed expedition food. Just wit and skill and wilderness. Food was fuel, and meals had to be quick and calorie-packed. Bannock and pemmican were the trail-tested bread and “energy bars” that fuelled the fur trade. Paddlers today love them for the same reasons the fur traders did; they require simple ingredients, are quick to prepare, and provide easy calories and lots of protein. Eat a piece of history. Cook like a voyageur! Bannock, the fuel of the fur trade.