Kiviaq, the Fermented Food of Greenland

From the new BBC series Human Planet, which I like even more than Planet Earth, I learned that Greenlanders store birds they catch in summer — during a migration over the island — in a sealskin bag. Stuff 300-500 little auk birds into the bag, press all air out, sew up the opening, cover with heavy rocks, and wait three months.

The fermented birds are called kiviaq.  Kiviaq is valued highly, served on special occasions such as weddings. The aroma should “sting the nostrils. . . The flavor should resemble extremely intense Gorganzola cheese.”

The kiviaq segment ends with this voiceover:

And it’s nutritious, full of vitamins and minerals that will sustain people over the winter months ahead.

Reflecting the mainstream view that microbes (made abundant by fermentation) don’t matter.

4 Responses to “Kiviaq, the Fermented Food of Greenland”

  1. Kevin R. Bridges Says:

    The microbes definitely matter. I’ve been eating sauerkraut after dinner every day for a couple of months now, and I no longer underestimate it.

  2. Thomas W Says:

    Bad kiviaq also killed Knud Rasmussen, the famous Greenlandic explorer.

  3. tom Says:

    This is a self-experimenter plus (and he ate only meat):

  4. Nick Says:

    I just wrote an article about Kiviaq and other bizarre cooking methods! Check it out