So you think Greenlandic food is exotic?

The hunters bring in fresh game and catch to the market.

The hunters bring in fresh game and catch to the Nuuk market: seal tails

Whales. Seals. Pate. Liver. Curry. If it’s one thing I’ve learnt since coming to Greenland, it’s that when it comes to food, everyone has their own version of ‘exotic’.

Asian food, exotic?
Some of my European friends used to think that asian noodles were exotic. Like Malaysian laksa, Vietnamese pho and Japanese udon noodles. I didn’t quite understand them, having grown up with all types of noodle dishes. I miss it dearly now though.

Fresh food in China: prawns and hot pot 
Seven years ago, I had to reevaluate the meaning of ‘fresh food’ in Guangzhou, China. It was at a delicious hot pot restaurant where I was confronted by a line of wriggling prawns on a skewer. I had to dip the prawns into a boiling pot of soup to cook (I mean kill) them. Visually vicious, but delightfully delicious.

There are hot pot variations across Asia, but it usually involves a big pot of boiling soup at the dining table, some beer and all sorts of wonderful seafood, meat or vegetables. It’s a very social time as the pot is usually communal and you chuck food into the soup as you feel like eating it.

Greenlandic cuisine
There’s no doubt that to the rest of the world Greenlanders also eat all sorts of exotic stuff.

Like whale meat. Seal meat. Polar bear. Certain birds. Musk ox. Huh, what’s that?

They also prepare it in special ways. The southern Greenlanders have special blubber preparation recipes. Some other parts of Greenland prepare birds in a seal and put it underground for awhile.

If the fresh food market is anything to go by, Greenlanders don’t seem to have a problem with blood and gore. As part of life’s cycle they kill what they eat, and then eat what they kill. Traditionally they used to make tools and jewellery out of the whale bones. They still make art out of seal fur. It’s an inherent part of their culture.

What Greenlanders find exotic
The funny thing about perspective is that everyone has one.

So when I shared with my Greenlandic colleagues that I once tried (rice-fed) rat in Vietnam, they cringed. And they gasped in horror and made disgusted faces when I said I had tried dog in China. Not once, but twice. My fellow southern city dwellers do not eat dog, even though I have heard that some of their northerly neighbours do.

So anyone out there who is judging me right now for having tried everything above at least once, you’ve probably eaten something that someone else thinks is exotic too. Like smelly cheese. Or blood pudding. Or liver pâté. Or by golly gosh, even fresh salad.

How could you? Hee hee.

15 thoughts on “So you think Greenlandic food is exotic?

  1. When I visited Uluru via Alice Springs several years ago, I made it a point to try all the Aussie bush tucker that you can’t normally find in the US, like crocodile, camel, emu, and kangaroo. But I still can’t develop a taste for Vegemite!

    I definitely love to try everything at least once, including boiling live prawns if I go to Guangzhou. But I think the only part about that I find icky is the fact that live prawns haven’t had their veins cleaned out. Maybe if I close my eyes and not think about shrimp poop, I’ll be OK! 🙂

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  5. Icelandic Þorramatur:
    Kæstur hákarl: fermented Greenland shark.
    Súrsaðir hrútspungar: the testicles of rams pressed in blocks, boiled and cured in lactic acid.
    Svið: singed and boiled sheep heads, sometimes cured in lactic acid.
    Sviðasulta: head cheese or brawn made from svið, sometimes cured in lactic acid.
    Lifrarpylsa (liver sausage): a pudding made from liver and suet of sheep kneaded with rye flour and oats.
    Blóðmör (blood-suet; also known as slátur, meaning slaughter): a type of blood pudding, which is made from lamb’s blood and suet, kneaded with rye flour and oats.
    and more…

    yah,well… I know how you feel haha! 😀

      • Very true! My grandmother says as long as it doesn’t smell it’s fine. Not something I follow…
        Good coffee? I had know clue, then again I don’t drink coffee. I prefer tea 🙂

        • As your blog suggests! I’m more tea than coffee myself.. Though this year I have started drinking coffee. Time to try something new, right? 😀

          Do you know durian? Smelliest fruit in the world… The Malaysians love it but it’s banned on planes haha!

    • Your “Blóðmör” isn’t half as bad as it sounds: under somewhat variant shapes it’s very common in many countries, very popular as the “Blutwurst” of the Germans, or the Belgian and French “boudin noir”.

  6. Didn’t you hear the shrimps screamed for mercy before dipping them to the boiling pot? OMG…. All kidding aside, that’s the best way to eat them, still alive, sushi style. Dogs, beetles, frogs… those are exotic in the Philippines. I suppose I have to find a Greenland restaurant to try whales, seals and musk. Very exotic post. Yummy…

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