A giviak is an Inuit delicacy, made by stuffing a whole sealskin with whole raw auks, and letting it ferment underground.

First you need a dead seal with an undamaged hide. With your flensing knife, reach in through the seal's mouth and carefully separate the carcass from the skin and blubber. Pull the seal carcass out of the skin, through the mouth, without breaking the sealskin.

Then stuff the dead auks - feathers, feet, and all - into the sealskin. Sew up the mouth, and bury the bloated skin. During the summer months, the seal blubber on the inside liquifies, melting slowly into the dead birds. Fermentation occurs. Months later, dig it up.

Bring the giviak to a party. Guaranteed fun!

To eat one of the little birds from the giviak, hold it by its feet, and eat the feathers first by shucking them off with your teeth. Then crunch up the rest of the oily, delicious morsel -- bones included. The heart and the coagulated blood inside it are the best part, with a texture and taste reminiscent of the finest cheese -- according to Peter Freuchen in his book "My Life in the Frozen North".

Warning: In Inuit culture, refusing to eat what is offered you is very insulting to your hosts!

Irma S. Rombauer, author of The Joy of Cooking definitely never experienced such a feast as this. However, in the revised edition of that venerable cookbook, in the introduction to the section titled Freezing (page 819 of the 1975 edition), there is a reference to giviak.

We are indebted to an Arctic explorer for the following Eskimo recipe for a frozen dinner: "Kill and gut a medium-sized walrus. Net several flocks of small migrating birds and remove one specific small feather from each wing. Store birds whole in interior of walrus. Sew up walrus and freeze. Two years later, find the cache - if you can - and notify the clan of a feast. Partially thaw walrus. Slice and serve." Simplicity itself.

Or “What to do if you have 400 dead auks, a seal carcass and some time on your hands.”

When it comes to food, I guess the pickings must be mighty slim if you were/are an Inuit living in Greenland. Since most of the country is (or was, depending on your view of climate change) covered in ice there really is no farmable land and the natives have to make do with what they have. Things can get pretty creative.

Here’s what you need.

  • Approximately 400 dead Auks, intact. That means beaks, feet, feathers and all.
  • 1 hollowed out seal carcass.
  • A bunch of rocks
  • Here’s what you do.

  • Stuff the approximate 400 dead auks into the seal carcass.
  • Remove as much air as you can from the carcass by pressing down on it.
  • Sew up the auks within the carcass and cover it up with seal grease.
  • Now, get yourself that bunch of rocks. Make sure that you have enough to cover the entire carcass.
  • Cover up the carcass.
  • Depending on how hungry you are, wait anywhere between three to eighteen months.
  • Remove the rocks and uncover the seal carcass and open it.

    During that time the birds will have fermented and almost liquefied. This allows every part of the bird (except the feathers) to be consumed. I don’t know what they do with the seal carcass itself but if it were me, I’d eat that as well. After all, waste not, want not.

    Apparently Kiviak is a popular dish in Greenland during the holidays and for certain ceremonies such as birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. As for me, I like to import my Kiviak and serve it to my friends at tailgating parties during the football season. I also like to have a nice supply of Chianti on hand to wash it down with. You should see the look of anticipation on my friends faces when I offload the seal carcass from the back of my pickup truck and crack it open. It’s one you’ll never forget.

    From my table to yours and, as always, bon appetit.

    A word of caution!

    Do not try and substitute the auks for eiders. According to our friends at Wikipedia some enterprising or cost cutting Greenlanders tried to do just that and, "in August 2013 several people died in Siorapaluk from eating kiviak that was made from eider rather than auk, which do not ferment as well and gave those that ate it botulism.


    All kidding aside, even though I'd be scared shitless to eat something like this and even though it might sound like it, this write up is not intended for No More Room in Hell: The 2014 Halloween Horrorquest. That being said, I’ll leave that up to our resident quest master to decide.


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