Newfoundland’s Wild Foods Savored and Shared

Lori McCarthy looking for edible plants on the shore in Avondale, NL. Mary Gilman photo.
Lori McCarthy looking for edible plants on the shore in Avondale, NL. Mary Gilman photo.

A Forager Shares Her Newfoundland Bounty in a New Cookbook, Food Culture Place

Written by chef and forager Lori McCarthy and photographer Marsha Tulk, Food, Culture, Place: Stories, Traditions and Recipes of Newfoundland is a collection of treasured recipes, tales, and experiences that celebrate Newfoundland’s unique culture and heritage. 51mcnCPbRCL. SL250

fresh newfoundland mussels
Fresh mussels from Newfoundland.

Taking readers on a journey through a one-year food journey, Food Culture Place explores the wild foods of Newfoundland and the land it comes from, encouraging everyone to put more traditional foods back on their plates.

Informed by decades of cooking and collecting wild food, Food Culture Place captures a deep love for Newfoundland: not only the enjoyment of its food, but also the experiences and traditions that inform its harvesting, hunting, and preparation.


Between recipes, the authors showcase the pantries and people of Newfoundland, using photographs and art to open readers to the stories, places, and histories captured in the authors’ work.

Fish are caught, game hunted, berries, and plants foraged. Food is prepared, preserved, and stored. Throughout are recipes for traditional dishes, regional delicacies, and modern preparations written for today’s home cook.

Lori and Marsha
Marsha Tulk and Lori McCarthy in Newfoundland.

The Newfoundland Picnic Tradition

Wicker baskets, backpacks, coolers, wooden crates, pails and buckets, or crumpled brown paper bags full of everything and anything edible — what is it about a picnic or a boil up in Newfoundland that is so special?

The mere mention of having one draws people together to prepare, pack and plod out into the favorite patch of woods or clammer into a boat to find that perfect stretch of beach. I was amazed going through my grandfather’s old photographs of how many eating occasions were documented.

Picnic on a Newfoundland Beach back in the day.
Picnic on a Newfoundland Beach back in the day.

Groups of people both young and old gathered around a decorative lacey cotton cloth on the ground. Scattered amongst the baskets and pails are orphaned china teacups and mugs filled with copper kettle tea or instant coffee, cans of fruit salad, and tins of baked goods waiting to be smeared with homemade preserves.

Never Over Thought

It seemed to never be overthought as to what to take. It was what you had in the pantry, leftovers in the icebox or whatever you could cook up over the fire.

Some of my best picnics are my husband and I walking the dog at 7 AM just 10 minutes down the road to overlook the beach with a bottle of water, a coffee press and a few eggs to boil.

In writing this, it has become increasingly evident that it is very difficult to explain why we, meaning Newfoundlanders, love a good cookout. I asked my youngest son if he had any idea why we as a family would pack up and take off to some trail or park or pond for the day with just a bag of food and a few pots on our backs. His response was “I don’t really know. It must be in our DNA.” He also remarked that he does not remember us NOT doing it.

Newfoundland picnics over the years.
Newfoundland picnics over the years.

Even my boy’s stroller had skis for the winter. If we couldn’t go for a few days or a weeklong excursion, we would always try and make time for at least an afternoon of enjoying some fresh air and a mug up.

While I was scanning and editing these old photos of picnics, I couldn’t help examining the contents of each frame. One after another, the scenes were so similar. At least three generations were in every one and the kids were not lumped together but intermingled with the adults of the group.

To be a fly on the chunk of picnic cheese eavesdropping on the conversations in those groups. The food looked uncomplicated and plentiful so you could concentrate on the important stuff. Maybe we are all overthinking it. Maybe we get out there for no other reason than to get outside for a few hours – together.

About the Authors

Lori McCarthy is dedicated to the cultural foods of Newfoundland and Labrador through her company Cod Sounds and the Livyers Cultural Alliance. Her core values embrace locally sourced regional cuisine and wild foods from the land and sea; this is reflected in her food experiences and workshops.

Lori has been listed as a hidden gem in National Geographic and has been written up in Coastal Living as one of the eight great excursions in North America.

Marsha Tulk grew up and married on the West coast of Newfoundland but raised her two boys on the East coast. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual) majoring in photography and printmaking and a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Her love of photography started at a young age when she found her grandfather’s darkroom in the attic of the family’s 100-year-old home. In archiving his photographs, she found a window into the traditions of this island. It is her belief that a picture truly does silently speak a thousand words—putting food, culture, and place together has the potential to tell a thousand stories.

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