49 Voices: Harold Goode of Kotzebue

Harold Goode of Kotzebue (Photo by Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

This week we’re hearing from Harold Goode in Kotzebue. Goode is a chef at Maniilaq long-term care facility. When he moved to the region a year ago he had to learn to cook in a very different way.

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GOODE: I’ve been a chef, or in the cooking field, for about 26-27 years. Just been in it, and then our home is in Montana, so we cooked deer, elk and all that, so it’s nothing different cooking the traditional foods here. Now… seal and whale, that’s a different beast. Hey, I’m willing to learn it.

They received a seal, so I helped them skin it and everything. And it was so deep, deep, deep red. So it was rich in iron, because their deep-water [animals], you know, they swim deep. So, the flavor is a little irony, a little bit of iron in there. But, you know, I tasted it fresh and it wasn’t that bad. It was actually good. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ But, the seal oil has been a little tough one for me. And I just, I think I might have to pass on that.

These elders here, I love them. Beautiful people. Beautiful. There’s a woman out there who… she doesn’t say anything, but she looks so strong. So, I asked one of her caretakers, and she said, ‘Yeah. She used to be the breadwinner in her family. And she would go out whaling by herself. Just crazy.’ But she looks the part. She’s just a strong, beautiful Alaska Native woman. So, there’s a couple in here like that, but she just really… every day I come in, I make sure she’s okay. She’s something else, I feel.

You know, we’re in their world. And we have to, I think as a chef and food service provider, I think it’s very important that we give them, within regulations, what they’re used to. I mean, that’s food for the soul, you know what I mean.