Are you still planning your Christmas menu? Looking for some special dish that will make your table stand out? Do you want to make sure your family and friends have a holiday feast they will never forget? If so, why not make this Christmas an international one and add Greenland’s Christmas meal tradition, kiviak?
Kiviak (sometimes spelled Kiviaq) requires a bit of advance planning. Not only are the ingredients a little hard to come by, but the preparation time is in excess of three months. It will probably be a bit costly, and we can’t promise that everyone will love it. What we do guarantee is that no one will ever forget the experience.
Kiviak is a traditional Inuit delicacy. As noted above, the ingredients can be a bit difficult and costly to acquire. You start with a seal and 400-500 auk birds. No, that wasn’t a typo; the recipe actually calls for between four hundred and five hundred birds.
It is very important that you do not get processed auks. You want the complete creature — feathers, beak, feet, eyes, etc. If the thought of having to de-feather and clean all of these birds seems daunting, don’t worry. You aren’t looking for unprocessed birds out of a fetish for freshness, as you will quickly see. All of the bird’s bits are needed and used in the recipe.
Once you have acquired the ingredients, you need to stuff all of the birds — feathers, beaks, feet, eyes, and innards — into the body cavity of the seal. Pack them in tightly, using as many birds as the seal carcass can hold. Sew the seal carcass shut, making it as airtight as possible. In other words, make sure you securely seal the birds in the seal. Liberally rub oil over the finished product.
Once this is done, the kiviak is ready to “cook” for three months. Don’t worry about it taking up space in your oven for this time. Your back yard is better suited for this stage. Take the prepared kiviak outside and cover it with rocks, taking care to ensure that none of it is exposed to the elements. Now you just have to wait.
No heat is involved in the cooking of kiviak. If you have done your preparation properly, the oil on the seal’s skin will prevent maggot infestation, and the seal’s fat and a good rock cover will inhibit flies. Left unmolested for three months, the birds will slowly ferment inside the seal. If you start the process by September 25, it should be ready on Christmas Day as a tasty treat for your hungry clan.
As noted above, there is no need to use an oven. When ready to consume, simply go out back and remove the rocks from the kiviak. Slice open the seal and remove the birds. They are ready to be served.
The nicely-fermented auks should be quite tender and juicy by this point and ready to be eaten. The most popular way to partake is to bite off the head of the auk and suck out the juices. There is plenty more of the auk to be enjoyed, however. Once drained of its juices, you will want to rip off its wings and pluck off its feathers. The exposed flesh literally falls off the bones, making it easy to pick the carcass clean as you pinch off delicious morsels of long-dead, fermenting arctic fowl.
Kiviak connoisseurs expect a properly-prepared kiviak to taste similar to mature cheeses or licorice. The best part is said to be the heart. Even the intestinal fluids entice a gourmet’s palate and can be used as a sauce for the kiviak or other dishes.
When researching the horrifying Christmas tradition of Frau Perchta, it gave the members of the Research Department of Commonplace Fun Facts several sleepless nights. Now that we have researched kiviak, Frau Perchta has become our second-most terrifying Christmas tradition.
A brief video, showing one method of eating a properly-prepared bit of kiviak can be seen below. Before watching it, we just want to point out a totally-random and completely-unrelated topic, that there is a sale on barf bags at Amazon.com.