Today I had an interesting experience.
I tried Maktaaq (Muktuk) for the first time.
For those of you unaware, Maktaaq is a delicacy for Inuit, and I was fortunate to have been given a few samples to try.
It’s chunks of whale skin with blubber on the underside. Sometimes served frozen, the servings that I had were room temperature. The pieces that I ate had come from a Narwhal, and had an interesting taste and texture.
I’m not able to place the taste (it was raw), but other people compared it to almonds. I like almonds, and this wasn’t unpleasant, except for the fact that the cube of maktaaq is layered as follows:
1 – whale blubber (fat)
2 – thin layer that almost has a cartilage type of constituency, but is impossible to chew through (I tried for about 5 minutes on one piece). Hardened tissue.
3 – the skin. The piece that I had was a dappled gray (because it was a Narwhal).
The blubber is meant to keep the animal warm, and is prized up here by hunters, as hunters that are able to bring home lots of blubber are ‘better hunters’, since the blubber is more important than the whale meat. An interesting topic that was brought up today was that Inuit historically have no instances of heart attacks due to cholesterol and other fats. This is because the fats found in blubber are the ‘good fats’. And because fat can be broken down into sugars, it is an essential source of energy for Inuit as well. I’m speaking of traditional Inuit, as here in Iqaluit, junkier foods prevail, although I will be attending a feast on Friday. FINALLY, more traditional foods.
As for the layer of really hardened tissue, I’m assuming it is to prevent the skin from being pierced too easily when swimming about.
The layer of skin is actually textured like many many many hair follicles. Mmmm.
All in all, an interesting experience. Definitely weird walking around town knowing that I have pieces of Narwhal stuck in my teeth.
(Vegetarians everywhere are cursing me right now).