When sources of nutrition were limited, seal meat used to be a crucial ingredient in the diet of Arctic inhabitants. The pinnipeds were a perfect provider of protein and oil. The residents of Newfoundland and Labrador learned to make use of the flippers too. A savory flipper pie remains one of the local specialties made with an unusual ingredient of harp seal flippers, chewy, dark, and generally not very appetizing at first sight. However, the seal meat resembles a rich game and fish combo when properly cooked. Locals stew seal with vegetables and thick gravy and then bake it in a pastry shell.
Some animal rights activist groups criticize the seal hunt along with the preparation of this pie. However, the seals aren't considered endangered species in Canada; the east coast of Canada boasts a thriving population of seals. At the same time, hunting for them is strictly regulated by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Ocean. The season is limited to mid-March and April (sometimes also including May), so flipper pies are associated with Lent and Easter. An interesting fact: the lean seal meat has been considered Lent-friendly by the Catholic Church of Canada since the middle of the 16th century.
Where to find seal meat
According to the Canadian Sealer Association, you'll find seal meat in stores in places like St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Springdale, Deer Lake, Stephenville, Corner Brook, Port aux Basques, and Botwood.