The stew master
'Momma's' stew legendary in the North

by Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

FORT SIMPSON (Mar 13/98) - In two hours, Marguerite Brown prepares something viewed as magical by patrons of Fort Simpson's Nahanni Inn.

And, since the customer is always right and that -- in the restaurant business at least -- people always vote with their stomachs, Brown should take a public bow for producing her famous stew.

"There's beef, turnip, carrots, potatoes, salt, pepper and celery," she says when asked for her ingredients. "I mix it all up and then away I go."

A native of Labrador, Brown -- known as "Momma" by everyone (Editor's note: this journalist worked a total of eight months to get Momma to officially reveal her real name on the record and is quite proud of himself for that) has been preparing her special stew in the North for 14 years now.

"There's a lot of regular people who come here just to have it," she says. "When I make up a batch I do a full 10-pound (four kilograms) box (of beef) and it will do for 50 people... I just learned as I went along."

"At home, we do it a little different. You put a pie crust on and do it in the oven."

Last week, local groups even took out a paid advertisement in the Deh Cho Drum trumpeting the presence of her stew at their event. For a cook, it can't get any better than that.

In the summer, many of those travelling the Nahanni River seek her out to provide frozen packages of her stew to make their trips even better. Under the blazing midnight sun, there's nothing like Momma's stew to compliment a trip on the river.

Until then, patrons of the Nahanni Inn coffee shop can request Momma's magic on their next visit.

By all accounts, they won't be disappointed.