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The culinary traditions of mainland Europes only indigenous people

The street into Huuva Hideaway narrows the closer you can Liehittj a village just south of the Arctic Circle populated almost exclusively by 22 relatives of the Huuva family. Liehittj is deep into Spmi country the cultural home of what many consider to be mainland Europe’s only indigenous people, the Smi. Tragically, the narrative of modern Smi history mirrors that of other indigenous peoples in the Americas and Oceania.

Although never the victims of a physical genocide, many Smi do consider themselves the victims of a cultural genocide perpetrated by the country states they suddenly found their homes in namely Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Much like indigenous peoples in the usa and Canada, Smi were forcibly delivered to boarding schools and discouraged from speaking their language or practicing their religion. Racial scientists would force Smi children to undress for photographs and measure various areas of their body for “research.” Historically nomadic, many Smi were also forced to give up reindeer herding and reside in permanent settlements.

Today, there is a resurging fascination with traditional Smi culture led by the descendants of these who have been forced to bury their roots and heritage. They’re people like Henry Huuva, the son of a Smi man whose lineage in your community stretches back generations, and his children that are rekindling their link with their roots within their own way. There’s Erica, the silversmith herding reindeer with her husband in the northern mountains as her Smi ancestors could have, Christian and Ramona, who’ve both studied the Smi language in university, and the youngest, Maja, who recently completed schooling in a Smi handicrafts program in Jokkmokk three hours west. (You speak with time, not distances here.)

Even though Huuva family could quickly maintain themselves within their remote corner of Spmi, they’ve instead made a decision to open their doors and welcome travelers directly into find out more about their culture most importantly, Smi cuisine.

Imagine sipping on a refreshing cocktail manufactured from ingredients pulled from the encompassing forest, which doubles as a pantry. Flames burst from the nearby grill because the suovas (smoked reindeer meat) hit the rack. Even while, the couple duo of Henry and Pia Huuva are telling stories, sharing their house and food with visitors like me. Tucked deep in to the pine and spruce forests of Spmi, you can get embroiled in the fairytale ambiance of these aptly named Huuva Hideaway.

The couple duo first launched Huuva Hideaway in 2010 with the purpose of sharing Smi hospitality, culture, food, and storytelling. Following pandemic, they returned with “Huuva Hideaway 2.1” to welcome guests from Dubai to India into among their two guest homes.

The house carries a space where they host their outdoor dinners: here is a lavvu, a Smi tipi or tent traditionally manufactured from reindeer hides and wooden poles similar in design with their Native American cousins, and an extended picnic table close to a modest, rustic pavilion with a grill. At the top of everything, where in fact the grass grows right into a forest blended with pines, spruces, and birch, is really a small bar with a “Huuva Hideaway” sign hanging above.

Henry heads straight for the grill while Pia collects cloudberries and prepares mocktails inspired by their natural surroundings. Spmi does not have probably the most fertile soil on earth , but blueberries and cloudberries are plentiful and prepared to pick during long summer days.

Meat, specifically reindeer and moose, is really a cornerstone of Smi cuisine. Pia says she loves to ask guests just how many freezers they will have in the home (she’s 9). Per, Henry’s cousin who’s joined us, chimes in. “I’ve 11.”

Slaughter occurs in the fall prior to the biting temperatures and dark days of winter sweep over the region. Freezers keep carefully the meat, root vegetables, and fruit fresh before cycle repeats itself the next year.

“It is important about Smi food culture would be to care for everything,” says Henry, as he chops a slab of raw reindeer meat into long strips. “Whether you’re taking fish, meat, or vegetables, you cannot waste anything.”

Henry is making suovas, aka smoked reindeer meat, that he’ll invest a skillet with butter and onions. I ask Henry and Per, a cookbook author himself, if you can find any tricks to the dish.

“You take the meat, you salt it, and you hang it outside in the tipi and smoke it,” says Henry. “Put the wood on the stove and smoke it a bit, and that means you get that flavor right in the meat. It requires maybe four days to smoke. You can’t rush it.” No spices are added and for Per, even the onions aren’t essential.

“You do not want to eliminate from the flavor of the meat,” he says.

That simplicity stretches through other dishes, like grpi (a cured combination of leftover reindeer meat), and the blood pancakes Henry playfulls calls “bloodlinies” (pronounced such as a mishmash of “blood” and “blini”). These could be, and also have traditionally been, eaten by themselves, but Pia hands out some freshly picked berries to opt for the grpi and dresses the blood pancakes with red onion, red cabbage, lingonberry, and crme fraiche. But Per, indifferent to the seemingly obligatory fusion of modern Western cuisine, doesn’t need the excess accouterments.

“The meat is great,” he says, his gaze honed in on the dish. “It generally does not need other things.”

Twenty-year-old Maja Huuva usually joins for the festivities when she’s around, dressed up in traditional Smi clothing with scarlet trim on a good, dark blue coat. She shares her cultural knowledge with guests plus some of the Smi clothing and accessories she’s made, like her reindeer shoes or leather bag.

Currently, she spends her time taken between Liehittj and Jokkmokk a Smi cultural hub where she currently works. Unlike her father, whose parents encouraged him not forgetting his Smi identity with strangers, Maja doesn’t remember a particular moment where she learned of her heritage.

“It’s just been there,” she says. “It’s never been new.”

Good food in addition has been a continuing in Maja’s life, to the stage where she now considers herself a picky eater when she’s abroad. These suovas and arctic char are what she looks forward to many.

“I’m a little spoiled because I’ve my father who makes excellent food,” she says. “He’s my biggest inspiration in food.”

It is a theme I notice on the list of children, a few of whom are even vegetarians unless, needless to say, they’re eating their father’s cooking. There is no ambiguity behind the meat if it is via Henry. There is nothing packaged or shipped with a colorful assortment of labels promising that the merchandise is “bio” or “organic.” You don’t have to be as worried about the wellbeing of the workers behind the meal because Henry can be your reindeer herder, your moose hunter, as well as your butcher and he’s pretty damn happy about any of it.

Unlike most 20 year olds, Maja appears to have her future pretty much planned out. She’d prefer to stay static in or near her hometown definitely within Spmi and continue steadily to find out more about her cultural heritage to spread to her future children.

“I’d like the knowledge to remain,” she says. “Because easily don’t learn, then your knowledge can’t move ahead to another generation.”

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