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.
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.
- Greenland terducken from hell: the real bird-seal meal (thefourthcontinent.com)
- Dead sea of drying fish (thefourthcontinent.com)
- Three bullets, three reindeer and love in Greenland (thefourthcontinent.com)
- Trout fishing with bare hands in Nuuk (thefourthcontinent.com)