Nature rules all in Greenland, and when it comes to agriculture and Greenland gastronomy it is the everlasting motto. The harsh Arctic climate plays a definitive role, limiting the land wildlife to those mammals that can forage through deep snow and a few adept predators. The Greenland Ice Sheet captures much of the country’s terrain, leaving just the tiniest offering of good soil in South Greenland to run small sheep farms and to grow select fruits and vegetables in small batches.
Out of necessity, the sea, which is naturally overflowing with diverse fish species and many Arctic mammals, came to provide the most Greenlandic food. In fact, the sea became such a gastronomic compass for hunters and fishermen that they often named landforms and settlements after its characteristics. For example, Kapisillit is ‘the place with salmon’ and Ammassalik is ‘the place with capelin’. Thus, Greenland’s waters and hillside combined compose the Greenland cuisine, and what a tasty stock of ingredients it is!
“I would use the words ‘Luxury Adventure’ to describe it. They were able to do outstanding world-class food. Not just good for Greenland, but good period!”
“The meals have been our favorite! The buffet at Hotel Arctic – and also at Mamartut – was really nice. I like the fresh food! You can just tell everything is very fresh and clean!”
THE ARCTIC INGREDIENTS
Reindeer, Muskox, and South Greenlandic Lamb are Greenland’s succulent equivalents to common livestock. With the exception of a few sheep farms, the animals run wild amongst the Greenland backcountry, and this natural and unstressed life absolutely contributes to the tenderness and high quality of the meat. Small game, such as ptarmigan and snow hare, complete the land repertoire.
The cool Arctic waters offer an impressive selection of cod, trout, Arctic char, redfish, rockfish, and the famed Greenlandic halibut. Not to mention snow crabs as wide as a man’s arms and Greenlandic shrimp and prawns that pack distinct flavor into their miniature size. Even the mountain rivers are so full with fish that, with a quick reflex, you can catch them by hand!
Arctic sea mammals like seals and smaller whales are a delicacy in Greenland cuisine, and the more adventurous gastronomes are always tempted to try them. Taste mattak, a small bite of whale skin and whale blubber, or suaasat, the flavorful national soup made of boiled seal meat.
Hotel Arctic and Restaurant Mamartut (both in Ilulissat) and Restaurant Roklubben (in Kangerlussuaq) are all known for their weekly buffets featuring Greenland food. Sarfalik in Nuuk feature Greenlandic food in all their recipes.
- In Nuuk and larger towns, you can find Greenland food in Thai, Japanese, American, and French styles.
Greenlandic food is often smoked, dried, or salted, and served with special sauces.
In the TV series, A Taste of Greenland, chef Chris Coubrough learns Greenlandic recipes from locals and cooks his way through the five regions of Greenland.
- Learn more about the modern Greenlandic cuisine and traditional Greenlandic ingredients, get the recipes, see cooking scenes shot in Greenland and more at the dedicated website atasteofgreenland.com
NEWCOMERS TO GREENLAND RECIPES
Homegrown fruits and vegetables remain more of a side dish than a main course, but a few farmers in South Greenland and some inspired chefs around the country are getting creative. Warming temperatures have allowed for experimentation with potato and strawberry crops and even beekeeping, and already the results have been distributed in small batches along the coast.
Also, a growing focus to incorporate local flora like angelica, crowberry, and blueberry into the gastronomic experience is an innovative step toward synergy of the Greenland food from land and sea.
TABLE FOR TWO
A buffet or tasting menu is a great introduction to our Greenland recipes, and it ensures you get to taste the whole gamut of local flavors. Trust the chefs as they deliver simple yet beautifully crafted composed plates that make the Greenland food shine.
Of course, you are always welcome to put your own twist on Greenland gastronomy, and it is as simple as purchasing ingredients at the grocery store or fresh market. For a feast for the taste buds and eyes, take your fare to a cozy lookout point and simply enjoy eating the food that came from the very nature you see before you.
South Greenland hosts the annual Igasa Food Festival, a multi-day event honoring Greenland gastronomy and the farmers, hunters, fishermen, and chefs behind it.
There are no regulations about what foods travelers can eat while in Greenland; however, there are regulations about which Greenland food products can be taken upon departure.
- Greenlandic salmon is not exported, so make sure to enjoy it while you’re in Greenland.
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