The cold, northern countries of the world are known for serving up belly-warming delicacies like puffin, whale and seal.
But not to worry. For those who have not quite adopted the polar palate yet (read: most people), there are plenty of local Greenlandic treats to be eaten. And they don’t require pinching your nose to get down.
Starting with the vegan ingredients and moving onto the meat-lovers’ staples, here are 5 Greenlandic foods you just have to taste.
This tart and tasty little vegan-friendly berry is the taste of late summer in the Arctic. Try it as marmelade or cheesecake garnish at kaffemik, or throw it back one shot at a time as an after-dinner snaps.
If you really want to live a day as a local, in late August take a walk just outside town to pick your own crowberries. The ground is covered in the plant and you can eat the dark berries right from the vine. Just be sure you have a small plastic bag in your rucksack to take some home.
Souvenir tip: small bottles of crowberry snaps are often sold in Albatros Arctic Circle’s souvenir shop in Kangerlussuaq as well as in the Kræmmerhuset gift shop in Ilulissat.
One of life’s simplest pleasures is prying off a wild stalk of this celery-like plant and dunking it into a carafe of water like a straw. So refreshing! Restaurant chefs do it up a little fancier by dicing and pickling it and adding it to dishes for an inventive and puckering pop.
Souvenir tip: Anori Art in Nuuk sells pocket-size packets of angelica-infused sea salt as well as gentle and mild soaps infused with the greenery. And if your trip home is not terribly long, you can even buy it frozen in the grocery store. Just wrap it in newspaper to make sure it stays cold.
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This incredibly tender and flavourful steak meat is a staple in most restaurants. At Hereford Beefstouw in Hotel Hans Egede in Nuuk, a 225 g reindeer mignon graces the menu and will not leave you hungry.
It’s also a standby in Greenlandic homes as men and women both – even youth – go on private reindeer hunting trips throughout autumn to fill the freezer with steaks, ground meat, ribs and all the good cuts typically found from beef.
Souvenir tip: Any gastronome would love the cookbook ‘Reindeer: from the mountains to the pan’ that tells the story of Greenlandic subsistence hunting. Of course, delicious recipes are highlighted, too. It is sold at the Kangerlussuaq Airport gift shop as well as at Atuagkat bookstore in Nuuk.
All Greenlandic lamb comes from the farms that dot South Greenland, and when you bite into its juicy meat – preferably seasoned with rosemary and Arctic thyme and then slow-roasted – you are tasting a unique delicacy.
There is only one Inuit farm country in Greenland, and it – together with the ruins of the Norse culture – were recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Watch Life of Sheep Farmers to see this world heritage in action.
Souvenir tip: Greenlanders have always been resourceful, using every part of an animal for everything from food to clothing. Find hanks of Greenlandic sheep’s wool in Tupilak Travel’s souvenir shop in Nuuk and turn them into your next snowed-in knitting project.
Not to be confused with trout or even Arctic char, the Greenlandic salmon (called kapisilik) can only be enjoyed in Greenland. No exports for this fish. It is wonderfully fatty and delicious as both filet or steak, albeit elusive. It is not every day one finds Greenlandic salmon on the menu or at the market, so if you do see it as the Catch of the Day, jump at the chance to taste it!
The perfect night cap to any festive affair – be that in a lodge in the fjord or at the country’s finest table – is this dangerlously yummy mixture of whisky, Kahlua, Grand Marnier and whipped cream. And oh, a spot of coffee.
From disreputable dive bars to fancy places all along the coast, you can find this warm cocktail. Everyone has their own take on the story about what the different ingredients represent, but it is always a fantastic show no matter what. Order one, and you’ll see what we mean.
Take-home tip: There’s no duty-free box set yet, so for now you will have to mix your own, if you want to continue enjoying this adult beverage at home. Make sure you get the recipe from your server!