Why whale?

No jam, no chutney, but how else am I going to blog about Iqaluit?  A three-day trip, a few crazy stories, and perhaps the worst half mouthful of food I never ate. I mean I have nothing against “country food” — I even ate worms (or were they maggots?) in Johannesburg once and thought they tasted of chilli.

But raw whale goes too far.

It starts when you first set eyes on it, and it looks a bit like candy corn, except that it’s black and pink instead of orange and white.  It’s shiny, almost like jelly, but harder.

Then comes the taste and texture, and that’s where the problems really start. The only comparison I can think of is cold, wet car tire, with a distinct taste of fish. OK, I admit I never actually ate car tire, but I’m pretty sure it would taste like whale. I tried one tiny piece, spat it out after a few chews and still found myself gagging on the taste for what seemed like hours.

But one small piece of rubbery whale does not wreck my otherwise positive impressions of Iqaluit, which is a town which really doesn’t seem that it ought to be there, except it is. We ate caribou (gamey) and Arctic char (think superrich salmon) along with stuff that’s presumably flown in at vast expense. A plain green cabbage cost $4.99, and they sell snowmobiles in the supermarket, along with canned foods and winter boots.

It’s on the shore of Frobisher Bay, which at this time of year is frozen solid, with huge blocks of ice at what presumably used to be the water’s edge, and smooth ice beyond that. And for those of you who haven’t done it (yet), there’s something terribly surreal about walking on the ocean. I do recommend it, in a vaguely scary way.

We were lucky with the weather, which was about 20C warmer than it usually is in February, and even luckier to get both in and out more or less on time. There was something truly ironic about leaving Iqaluit in glorious sunshine, only to find the Washingtonians among us snowed out of their own city.

Is there a message here?


  1. Bernadette said

    That’s where you’ve been! Raw whale sounds disgusting. What possessed you to try it? Perhaps if the presentation had been more sushi-like, would it have helped? I’m thinking not. Looking forward to those scary sea pix!

  2. I don’t think sushi whale would have helped. I mean sushi was raw fish, this was raw mammal. I’ll chalk it down to experience.

    As for the frozen sea pictures, that was it — the second picture was from a place called Apex about 15 minutes drive from Iqaluit. Landscape on the way: white, white and white.

  3. LOL… what a wonderful description of a revolting dish…

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