France and Italy are renowned for their exquisite cuisine often based on very exclusive raw material. For saxifrage enthusiasts the Inuit kitchen must be a revelation, using the finest of raw material. If you are tempted to try any of these dishes you have to prepare yourselves to invite a big bunch of guests because
some of the ingredients come in very large units.
In 2007 the National Research Council of Canada published their “Flora Of TheCanadian Arctic Archipelago” in a CD-ROM version. In their descriptions of the species they have also included traditions indigenous people have in their use of
local flora. We find saxifrages have been used as drink, food, remedy, or have filled other purposes.
“Indigenous knowledge. Inuit names for this taxon are kakillarnat, tiinnguat, a'asaat. Ootoova et al. (2001, p. 276) say kakillarnat means "that which causes prickly feelings" (root kaki- to prick). Tiinnguat means "tea substitute". A'asaat might be onomatopoeia, referring to the sound a person would
make if they were pricked "a'aa," "ouch". The leaves have been used to make tea and were put on cuts. The plants were considered by some to be not good if eaten raw. Others enjoyed them because of their prickliness, but people were advised not to swallow them, unless they had been well chewed first (Mallory and Aiken 2004).
The plants have been used as bedding for raising husky puppies, as the prickles on the leaves are Photograph by Martin Hajman believed to cause the pads on the feet to toughen up, so that, as adult dogs, they are less likely to need booties when being used to pull komatiks on sea ice (Judith Farrow, personal communication, 1986).”
“Indigenous knowledge. An Inuit name for this plant is aupilattunnguat. Etymologically, it means "resembling something red". The flowers, which have a pleasant fresh taste, are often eaten in large quantities when they appear early in the growing season. Too many of the flowers eaten at once can induce diarrhoea. The flowers are good eaten with blubber (Ootoova et al. 2001) or a mixture of seal fat and seal blood (Eva Aariak, personal communication, 2006). The leaves can be used as tea. This is best done with dried leaves (Eva Aariak, personal communication, 2006).
The flowers "can be eaten along with the leaves but you tend to get tired of them even before you get full... If one is only going out for a walk, one would eat edible plants, but when you start for home, you would feel that you had too much of plant, even your chest does not feel good" (Z. Innuksuk, personal communication, reported in Mallory and Aiken, 2004, p. 111).”
“Indigenous knowledge. Anderson (1939) reported that this species was widely used by Eskimos in Alaska where the succulent leaves were eaten fresh or in oil. They could be preserved for long periods in oil. Kjellman (1882) found people of Chukchi produced a form of "sauerkraut"composed largely of the leaves of Petasites and S. paniculata by tightly packing the leaves into a sealskin bag. Porsild (1953) noted that the leaves are eaten raw with seal blubber or as "saukraut" by the Chukchi and the western Eskimo.” This is incorrect: some other saxifrage is being referred to here. Conferring with Malcolm McGregor the references to the “Indigenous knowledge” of Saxifraga paniculata are obviously dubious: the ranges of the mentioned people are not overlapping with the distribution of this saxifrage. In his 2008 book Malcolm points out however that other species are treated in exactly this way with
Micranthes nudicaulis being an example recounted to him. Despite this the flora gives a presentation of many other wonderful Arctic Alpines. The presentation also includes several pictures and distribution maps for all species. Maybe this gives you the final solid argument to claim the kitchen garden?
Aiken S.G., et al; Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago – CD-ROM;
National Research Council of Canada, 2007, ISBN 978-0-660-19727-2