Talkin' Tuesday: How to Speak Like an Alaskan

(blogging to you today from Birmingham, Alabama)

"Down South"

phrase: an Alaskan's way of referring to the Lower 48.   Also known as the place of unlimited shopping choices, terrific eateries, and warmer temperatures.  Also generally known for traffic and tornadoes.

Example: "I can't wait to fly Down South and catch up on my retail therapy at Saks 5th Avenue!"

Not to be confused with "The South" - land of Chick-Fil-A, Krispy Kreme, and unlimited Southern twang.

According to Alaskans, "The South" is "Down South."

Something Alaskans can only find "Down South" - Krispy Kreme MILKSHAKES!

Fancy footwear you'll likely only find "Down South."  (Sorry, Alaskan fashionistas, but Christian Louboutin doesn't sell stiletto ice grippers.)

Talkin' Tuesday: How to Speak Like an Alaskan

Akutaq                                 [a-goo-duck]

noun:  a common food in western Alaska, usually made with ingredients such as Crisco or animal oil, berries, sugar, and fish.  Yupik word for “something mixed.”  Also known as Eskimo ice cream.

Example: “That Akutaq was so tasty, I’m still grinnin’ like a possum eatin’ a sweet tater.”

I first tasted akutaq in Kotzebue, north of the Arctic Circle.  I was at a public event, and a young girl approached me with an old shoebox full of small paper cups, each packed to the brim.  “Would you like some Eskimo ice cream?” she asked.  Famished, I said, “Yes, please,” and took the fullest cup.  This Southern woman never turns down ice cream.

It was then explained to me that the variation of ice cream I was so eager to spoon into my mouth was actually a combination seal oil, salmon, Crisco, loose snow, salmonberries, blueberries, and sugar.  Since trying akutaq with an open mind was the respectful thing to do, I did my usual countdown… 3-2-1… and BOOM!  Flavor explosion!  Rich, gooey, bitter, tart, saccharine, indescribable texture, and unexpectedly pleasing to the palate.  

Try it.  You just might like it.

My first cup of akutaq in Kotzebue, north of the Arctic Circle.

The tentatively first taste.

A box full o' akutaq at the 2012 Alaska Federation of Natives in Anchorage, Alaska.

Talkin’ Tuesday: How to Speak Like an Alaskan

Ulu            u·lu             [oo-loo]

noun:  a short-handled knife with a broad crescent-shaped blade, traditionally used by Eskimo women.

Example: “I could filet this sockeye a lot quicker if I just had an ulu!”

The ulu was one of my first traditional Alaska purchases after moving to Juneau.  Since I tend to not eat loads of veggies, I was impressed to find good use of this tool when slicing up the other important food groups: pizza, quesadillas, and peach cobbler. 

Whether you live in Birmingham or Barrow, your kitchen isn’t complete unless you have an ulu on hand!

Momma at the Ulu Factory in Anchorage, Alaska.

Quesadilla Cutter

Antler and wooden handled ulus from the Eagle River Knife Co.

Talkin’ Tuesday: How to Speak Like an Alaskan

chee·cha·ko             [chee-chah-koh]

Noun:  anyone new to Alaska.

Example: “Did you see that broad over there tryin’ to walk on the ice with those pointy toed stilettos?  Cheechako!”

Not to be confused with the “Cheechako Dog” at the Spenard Roadhouse, which in my opinion is one of the best restaurants in Alaska.  Their Cheechako Dog is an Alaska Reindeer Polish sausage with tomato, stone ground mustard aioli, and nuclear relish.  Check out their “Polish and a Pint” special during Happy Hour (after 9pm) when you can get this beast feast for only $3 when purchasing your favorite pint of draft beer. 

Want contemporary comfort food in a sassy atmosphere?  Hit up the Spenard Roadhouse in Anchorage. 

My friend, Ben, demonstrates his excitement for the deal of the decade: the Spenard Roadhouse’s “Polish and a Pint.”  (Note the beard and flannel, trademarks of a typical Alaskan man!)