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Kiviak

Traditional Inuit dish of fermented sea birds (little auks)  in Northern Greenland. To prepare one kiviak, several hundreds of little auks have to be hunted. Then they are tightly packed into a bag made of sealskin (the meat was removed, and fat remained – it makes the birds’ meat tender). The skin is sewn up, and greased around with seal fat as a repellent to flies. After that kiviak is stored under a pile of rocks to ferment for couple of months. It acts as a protection against animals, and allows the gases to escape during fermentation process (the seam of the bag needs to be facing upward).

When the whole process is over, kiviak is ready to be served. The birds’ feathers are removed, and the rest (with skin, bones and organs) might be consumed raw.

Kiviak has been consumed over a centuries by Inuit people, and treated as a delicacy. Although, it might thought to be disgusting for other nations, it plays an important role for indigenous people, whose diet is mostly meat-based. Kiviak is prepared in the spring, and consumed in the winter – that season used to be the toughest period, when the food was scarce. It is rich in vitamins, and other nutrients needed for survival. Fermentation is also an effective method of preserving food.

In 2011 BBC aired the “Arctic: Life in the Deep Freeze” – the third episode of “Human Planet” program about daily life of Inuit people, including preparing kiviak (according to the authors, it tastes like Gorgonzola cheese).

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