Oh the pressure!
I’ve been cordially invited to two kaffemiks so far and both times none of the delicious food was bought from the supermarket or from a patisserie. The food was made lovingly by the hosts. Damn.
I remember a time in high school when pizza parties were all the rage. It was every parents’ cheap and nasty solution to feed the hordes of hungry teenagers on their doorstep. Freshly baked stacks of supreme and meat lovers pizza would be delivered to parties for an extremely reasonable price and all eaten in a flash. Well, in Nuuk, there’s not much of a fast food culture here. For sure there’s no such thing as Pizza Hut (or McDonalds)!
The past few years I’ve acclimatised to a lifestyle where eating dinner out about 3 or 4 times a week is normal. It makes sense in Sydney – though not particularly cheap, there are lots of great restaurants to choose from and it’s a social time to meet friends. It’s not always possible to have dinner at homes, especially as everyone lives so far away from each other (say 20 to 60 minutes travel time).
The reality in Nuuk is that all the women (and men) I’ve met know how to cook and bake! They bake bread, they bake cakes, and they make it often. They gather their own food too – they pick berries from the mountains when it’s in season. The ones who’ve lived here longer usually hunt their own food such as musk ox, reindeer and rabbits and so hardly need to buy meat from the supermarket. Not to mention that it’s a fishing haven here. I’ve been told you can drop a fishing line into the water and just keep on pulling up fish. It’s a gastronomical lifestyle which honours ‘real food’ (and mass-produced candy and soft drink). Plus, the choice of much else is lacking – there are not that many restaurants to eat at, even if the ones that are around are pretty good!
Which brings us to the kaffemik, which we are throwing today to celebrate the recent special events in our life.
Apparently Greenlandic kaffemiks can be huge over-the-top events. One friend I talked to once baked 15 cakes by herself for a special kaffemik. I guess they were expecting a lot more guests than we were…
When we decided to throw a little shindig in local style, my first thought was “Oh crap, how are we going to pull this off?” Though we can cook, neither of us are really bakers, and I guess frozen pizza isn’t really going to cut it 😉 Luckily, help came in a few ways in the form of reindeer meat and recipes through friends, family and the internet. It will be fine. I hope the food is tasty and edible, but I’m just looking forward to having a good time.
If you’ve never been to Greenland you probably know nothing about kaffemiks. Here’s a few interesting aspects about it:
- A kaffemik is held during the day and it’s sort of open invite where the host prepares some food and drink for guests.
- You can throw a kaffemik for any celebratory reason. Birthdays, graduations, confirmations, non-firmations, weddings. It’s a one size fits all type of thing.
- Hardly anyone RSVPs. This means that you don’t know how much food to prepare. That’s kinda annoying for the party planner =-)
- Guests may stay for a short while (say twenty minutes) or a longer time, depending on how close one is to the host and how many people attend the event.
- People come and go all the time, and if there are not enough chairs, the people who were at the kaffemik earlier make room at the table by leaving. Everyone has to make sure not to eat too much.
- Food is diverse, and ranges from cakes and cookies to heartier dishes like mattak (whale skin and blubber), reindeer meat, musk ox, and seal stews. Some food from my last kaffemik below!
- How to avoid having that big fat traditional wedding (thefourthcontinent.com)