Wednesday, September 17, 2003

SO LONG, AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH . . . MAMMAL . . . WHATEVER: Finally addressing a cultural trend this blog first tackled in January, and to which we have applied non-stop team coverage ever since (even before we had a team), the Times' Nicholas Kristof today introduces his paper's readers to the pleasures of eating muktuk:
The school closed, the shops closed, and even the U.S. post office took a break so the whole population of 270 could assemble on the beach under a gently falling snow to hug and cheer as the victorious whalers brought in the supply of winter meat and blubber. (An audio slide show of the event is available here.)

The elders spoke the Inupiat language, while the kids were more hip. One girl stared at the 43-foot-long bowhead whale and shouted, "Hey, man, that's heavy!"

Two bulldozers hauled the whale onto the beach (after breaking the two-inch-thick rope, twice). Children danced on top of the whale, and then the adults began carving it up, with one man dispatched to shoot his rifle periodically to ward off the polar bears that were circling the beach hungrily. The first "muktuk," or bits of skin and blubber, were rushed into a pot, then passed around to all.

"It's good with ketchup or A-1 Steak Sauce," one man explained, offering those condiments as well. The local people had handfuls of the muktuk; I tried it and found it pretty awful. That's a major reason the Eskimo diet will trim those waistlines.

Keep reading. Remember, cooked muktuk is safe muktuk.

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