Traditional Newfoundland jiggs dinner
By Brynn Duggan
As you savor the salt meat of the Jiggs Dinner in front of you, you begin to remember all the times you've enjoyed it from the very beginning, when you were just a kid curled up by the wood stove -- the only source of heat in your tiny house -- with your 6 siblings, inhaling the familiar scent of salt meat, carrots, potatoes, cabbage and turnip.
Root vegetables were the only ones that could be grown on Bell Island, the small mining town where you lived. Plus, you didn't have a refrigerator, so anything you bought or grew had to be able to keep for a long time in the cold cellar. So it was Jiggs dinner every Sunday, like almost all the other households in Newfoundland, but you didn't mind -- you loved it so much you could eat it every day. When you were eating Jiggs Dinner there was such a sense of family, of wholeness, of home.
You were the first in your family to go to university. You moved away from home and could only come back on holidays, but when you did there was always Jiggs Dinner, and always that same feeling.
Older still, you would visit with your wife and 4 kids, not once a week anymore, but often enough. You were grown; no longer a kid at the table.
You recall when you were 78 and visited Newfoundland with your daughter and granddaughter, and visited the mines where your dad had worked for 30 years of his life, that had now been turned into a tourist attraction. Everything was different -- you could even buy Jiggs Dinner in restaurants! ->
And when you turned 81 and your family made you a big Jiggs Dinner for your birthday.
And finally now, when your granddaughter made Jiggs Dinner for a recipe project, so you drove over and picked it up from her house wearing your mask, and are eating it at your own home. You delve into the peas pudding, your favourite part of the meal, thinking about how much times have changed, but how Jiggs Dinner stays the same- the same feeling of family, wholeness, home, and now, tradition. You hope it will continue to be passed on for generations to come.
(Refer to images at the bottom of the page for instructions on how to prep the vegetables.)
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