Why I eat Greenlandic Food

In autumn I started a little unofficial ‘Portrait of a Greenlander’ series to highlight Anne Nivíka Grødem, the Greenlandic Foodlover. Now we’re cooperating in a new way. Here in February, I’m so proud to be a weekly guest blogger on her website, www.greenlandicfoodlover.com. Everything on the website relates in some way to food and health and Greenland – whether it’s delicious new recipes to try out or tips for keeping healthy skin in winter.

My posts on Greenlandic Foodlover are written in Danish, but I’m reproducing them here in English.

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ON APPRECIATING ANOTHER CULTURE

By: Sarah Woodall

When I came up here for the first time, I knew nothing about the Greenlandic food environment, and I knew nothing about the rules for importing and exporting food, for example. I had no idea how much vegetables cost, and I had absolutely never heard of seal- and whale-hunting.

Yes, I was completely new and unknowledgeable, but it also meant I had no preconceptions or prejudices against Greenland or the Greenlandic people. Everything I know about Greenland now, I learned here. With respect to food, I was totally open to eat anything that was served. One must try everything at least once, is what I learned as a child, and such a saying goes a long way here in the Arctic.

In the beginning, I ate Greenlandic food to show my respect and appreciation for the country’s culture. I thought to myself, When I am in your land, it should be me who adapts myself to your ways. Not the other way around.

I can remember the very first time I tried fried whale meat at a birthday lunch. Everyone at the table looked at me and waited to see my reaction (which was that I thought it tasted very good). And I can remember a time my friend came home with fresh raw seal liver. I ate that without a second thought, although maybe with just a small hesitation before the first bite. They were all completely taken aback that I could imagine trying such a thing!

P1000638 Whale on the barbie! Fantastic summer day on the terrace with short sleeves, sunglasses, and Greenlandic specialties! And with two (live) whales in the bay, too.

Now I eat Greenlandic food because I want to. It’s not every day, but, for example, I do buy whale meat and mattak (whale skin & fat), and I ask for Greenlandic food whenever there’s a choice. I have experienced overall that Greenlanders are surprised by my openness, my willingness, and even my desire to eat the Greenlandic specialties. One of my best friends always says that it is truly amazing I like the taste of ‘Arctic blood’. It makes me proud.

Top left: Boiled seal meat for suaasat soup. Top right: South Greenlandic lamb leg. Bottom: Mattak (whale skin & fat), served with aromat seasoning and strips of dark rye bread.

IMG_5051 An interesting find at the grocery store! Greenlandic Trio Pack of 1) ground Minke whale meat 2) ground muskox meat and 3) fish mashed with cream, vegetables, etc.

I think it is important as a foreigner to be open for the different food cultures you meet. It is also just as important for the culture one comes into to feel that it is valuable itself. The simple fact that a foreigner is open to take on new food habits and adopt them as their own is certainly a success, isn’t it?

I don’t mean that the value of a culture should be decided by the outside world. On the contrary! But when a foreigner wishes to immerse herself in the Greenlandic lifestyle and food culture, it’s a proof that such a lifestyle is unique and very special.

Therefore I eat Greenlandic food. Because it supports the Greenlandic culture, because I can, and because I want to.

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The Greenlandic food scene: how to adapt and accept

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In autumn I started a little unofficial ‘Portrait of a Greenlander’ series to highlight Anne Nivíka Grødem, the Greenlandic Foodlover. Now we’re cooperating in a new way. Here in February, I’m so proud to be a weekly guest blogger on her website, www.greenlandicfoodlover.com. Everything on the website relates in some way to food and health and Greenland – whether it’s delicious new recipes to try out or tips for keeping healthy skin in winter.

My posts on Greenlandic Foodlover are written in Danish, but I’m reproducing them here in English.

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HOW AN AMERICAN ADAPTS HER HABITS IN GREENLAND

By: Sarah Woodall 

I was raised in Washington, D.C. in a huge food environment. There, nothing is missed in the grocery store, and there are tons of specialty shops with Asian, Mexican, and organic ingredients, to name a few. Everything is available everywhere, every day, and one can go shopping 24/7. When I would make dinner, I found inspiration by searching new and delicious-sounding recipes on the Internet and in magazines. There was never a question of whether I could find the special ingredients I would need for them.

When I got to Greenland, I experienced a completely different food environment. The choices were smaller, and season and price are always limiting factors. Due to these, most of the exciting recipes out there just don’t work in Greenland, especially in small settlements or in the middle of the winter season. But through the years, I have learned a few good tips about adapting to and accepting the Greenlandic food environment, which Greenlanders surely discovered themselves many decades ago:

  • Make dinner based on the daily specials at the store and market. That way, you will always be successful.
  • Harvest the Greenlandic nature whenever possible. Pick crowberries and blueberries to put into yummy sauces, smoothies, and cakes. Cut stalks of angelica to lightly flavor water. Go hunting for your own reindeer, muskox, seal, and ptarmigan. Fish for redfish, cod, trout, and capelin, for example.
  • If the necessary ingredients are sold out or otherwise unavailable, use your creativity and get similar ingredients instead. (For example: use pears instead of apples or creme fraiche instead of Skyr or greek yogurt)
  • Frozen vegetables are better than no vegetables.
  • Making food should be a pleasure.
  • Simple food is still tasty food. Meals made of 3 ingredients can be just as delicious as those made of 9.

But once in a while I find a recipe that sounds so good I simply must try to make it happen. A few days ago I found a recipe of Rachael Ray’s (the famous american TV chef). The recipe was for a stuffed chicken breast with potato pancakes. I thought it sounded so tasty, and it was completely different than the typical dishes I make. When I went shopping in Pisiffik, one of the grocery store chains in Greenland, I was actually able to find all the ingredients. So I thought to myself, Finally, a recipe which can be made in Greenland!

Are you looking for inspiration for dinner or just for some diversity to your recipe box? Try this Stuffed Chicken with Rösti Potatoes tonight!

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Photo from: www.rachaelraymag.com 

 

Portrait of a Greenlander: The Greenlandic Food Lover, Anne Nivíka Grødem

Billede af Anne Nivíka Grødem Photo by: Ivìnguak Stork Høegh, via Greenlandic Food Lover Facebook page

A creative and beautiful soul

Anne Nivíka Grødem is an inspiring and creative soul through and through. She is an illustrator under the pen name by Nivíka, creating the sweetest drawings of Greenlandic motifs and animals, one of which hangs above my very own desk. She is an author, creating a trilingual activity book (in Greenlandic, Danish, and English) called Arctic Circus to help develop children’s inner creative spirit, connection with language, appreciation for diversity, and desire to learn. And she is a home chef of professional caliber, manning her @greenlandic_foodlover Instagram account for years and most recently developing it into a full suite of Greenlandic Food Lover resources – a print recipe book, Facebook page, and blog.

In Anne’s own words (translated from Danish to English):

“I am a foodie, and I love to experiment with recipes and to get inspired by food I eat and see. This blog is an expression of what I eat regularly, which is an easy and accessible starting point! I’m not religious or fanatic – but I am driven by visually outstanding beauty. I love when food appeals to all the senses!”

A vegetarian recipe book for the country with no vegetables

Anne is running wild with her Greenlandic Food Lover passion this year. In September she released a recipe book, Naatitanik Qerisunik Nerisassiornermut Najoqqutassiaq / Grønne Opskrifter med Frosne Grøntsager (Vegetarian Recipes with Frozen Vegetables, in English) to give Greenlanders a tool for how to be creative within the frames available in Greenland.

The Greenlandic diet never really had vegetables written into the game plan – only land and sea mammals, fish, and the tiniest bit of foraged foliage. Today, local agriculture is confined to a very short growing season in South Greenland, and imported goods come from the most expensive countries in the world. Needless to say, Greenland’s vegetable game remains a challenge. The price of fresh lettuces and cucumbers can soar to 6-7 USD or more, leaving frozen foods as the only economically reasonable possibility for many. For more discussion on food in Greenland, see here.

Thus, in classic Greenlandic pioneering spirit, Anne embraces this ‘limitation’ and makes it a strength. Use her recipes to spiff up ordinary green beans and your guests will swear the veggies came right from your own greenhouse.

Greenlandic Food Lover_Advertisement Photo credit: Greenlandic Food Lover Facebook page

Ambassador for healthy & happy lifestyle

Anne strives not only to educate Greenlanders about easy ways to add variety, nutrition, and flavor to their diets through recipes but also to inspire them to adopt the same style of relationship she has with food – a holistic one.

She knows that health goes further than eating food with high nutritional value; it includes an all-around balance in every corner of one’s life. Taking the clean lifestyle initiative to new heights, Anne focuses on health, happiness, and inspiration via the kitchen.

Here are a few of her cardinal rules for food:

  • It must be easy.
  • It must be healthy.
  • It must be available locally, either from Greenland’s own resources or the town’s grocery store.

Greenlandic deliciousness 

So what will Anne have us eat?

Italian meatballs over vegetable ribbons, Crowberry coconut popsicles, Green juice of cabbage & cucumber & avocado & mint & spinach, Date bars, Ginger-lemon shooters, Homemade almond milk and almond flour, and so much more!

Photo credits: Left – Emilie Binzer, Top Right & Bottom Right – Anne Nivíka Grødem

Is your mouth watering yet? Get more Greenlandic food inspiration at www.greenlandicfoodlover.gl.

Cooking Suaasat, a Traditional Greenlandic Seal Soup Recipe

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When life gives you a bag of seal meat, make suaasat!

Suaasat is a traditional soup whose main ingredient is seal meat. It looks heartier than any stew I’ve ever seen and packs a distinct flavor punch like Arctic blood.

Many will say it is “old Greenland” food, and that’s probably true. I don’t think I’ve ever seen suaasat served in a restaurant, which would surely opt for a more modern carpaccio preparation instead. Not to mention, it most likely would not be the top seller on the menu as people who have not grown up with the tradition tend to think it’s an… acquired taste.

But I like it, and I approach suaasat like its French cousin, the Vichyssoise. Just because you don’t eat it on the daily doesn’t mean you cannot know how to make it.

So when some fresh seal meat more or less fell into my lap one day, I think my inner Inuit chef was screaming my name.

How does seal meat fall into one’s lap?

There’s a whole Facebook group dedicated to buying and selling things in Nuuk – clothes, housewares, skis, boats, puppies, and even food goods. I saw that my friend/colleague put up for sale bags of seal meat that her boyfriend had caught himself, so I jumped on the chance to buy some. If you’re not a hunter yourself, one usually just buys seal meat at Kalaaliaraq, the fresh Greenlandic market in city center, but it’s much more fun to get it from someone you know!

I wasn’t totally sure what use I would put my seal meat to, until an opportunity presented itself to learn how to make suaasat. So one evening, my American friend and I made ourselves cozy while her Greenlandic husband taught us about this recipe.

Suaasat Recipe

Cookware:

1 large stock pot
1 slotted spoon
1 shallow bowl

Ingredients:

1-1,5 kg (2-3 lb) seal meat, bone in
cold water
salt and pepper, to taste
4-5 handfuls white rice
1 large white onion, chopped
5-6 potatoes
spicy mustard

Directions:

Trim excess fat from the seal meat, leaving some on for flavor.

Fill a stock pot 2/3 full with cold water and place seal into the water.
Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil for 30 minutes. You will notice how the water almost instantly takes on the dark color of the meat.
The blood and fat from the seal will rise to the surface and create a foamy layer. Stir occasionally.

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Add the rice and onion to the boiling pot and continue to boil for 10 minutes.

Add the potatoes and continue to boil for 20 minutes.

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After approximately 1 hour total cooking time, the suaasat should be ready. Using a slotted spoon, remove the seal from the pot and place into a shallow serving dish. Serve the soup alongside the meat, and with mustard on the side.

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Takanna!

(That’s Greenlandic for Dig in!)

Eating Green in Greenland

Arctic food debunked

The Arctic diet is often under great scrutiny. Comedian Ellen DeGeneres recently funded anti-seal hunting organizations, U.S. President Barack Obama is urging Iceland to cease its whaling practices, and the official Instagram feed of National Geographic has blown up more than a few times with criticism over photos of hunting in East Greenland.

Despite what the media show, food in Greenland is not all about seal hunting and whale hunting. In fact, fruits and vegetables of all kinds are available here.

Ambassador for healthy and happy eating

May is “Make May Healthy” month with initiatives of relay running races, healthy food tastings in the mall, and the like, but there’s one particular Greenlander who wants a focus on healthy eating habits and physical activity to carry through the entire year.

Anne Nivíka Grødem, the Greenlandic Food Lover, takes the healthy lifestyle past her own kitchen and shares it with all in Greenland. She has come with a new cookbook with recipes for frozen vegetables, a blog, and a Facebook group, all in 2015. Read more here about this ambassador for a healthy and happy relationship with food.

Lead by example

Meet one Greenlander (@hannekirkegaard83) who puts these principles to the test and makes my mouth water every single day with her photos of delicious homemade meals chock-full of green stuff! Are you surprised to see such variety in Greenland?

Homemade chicken soup with carrots, cabbage, leeks, spring onions, Greenlandic shrimp, garlic, chili, lemongrass, coriander, and lime leaf.Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 10.58.54 PM

Arugula salad with bell peppers, cranberries, sunflower seeds, fresh basil and basil oil. Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 10.23.36 PM

Vanilla custard with macaroon and Greenlandic paarnat (crowberries, in English).Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 11.04.37 PM

Homemade fish soup with fresh parsley.Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 11.03.50 PM

Homemade pizza with mozzarella, fresh basil, and pepperoni.Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 10.55.41 PM

If these shots by @hannekirkegaard83 whet your palate, just wait until you see her homemade desserts!

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For a bite-size lesson on the Greenlandic diet, read about food in Greenland and challenges with Greenland’s food industry below.

What does one eat in Greenland?

The diet in Greenland is a mixture of native Greenlandic foods and imported Danish & international foods. 

From Greenland, there are 3 main categories of foods, and they are all protein. Their common preparations are drying and smoking.

  1. Land species. Primarily reindeer and muskox. Also lamb, snow hare, ptarmigan, and many bird species. (Also blueberry, crowberry, and lingonberry.)
  2. Sea mammals. Primarily seal and certain species of small whales. Polar bear is also eaten, but its consumption is much more regional than other sea mammals.
  3. Seafood (Fish & Shellfish). SO many choices like halibut, redfish, trout, cod, Arctic char, salmon, capelin, snow crab, shrimp, mussels, scallops, and even caviar (lumpfish roe).

As a traveler, one’s best bet for tasting many Greenlandic foods is to eat at a Greenlandic buffet or try a Greenlandic tasting menu out at a restaurant. The courses will come one after another, and the presentation is usually quite impressive. Here are a few dishes, for example, from two different dinners at Sarfalik at Hotel Hans Egede in Nuuk.

Left: Crowberry sorbet with sourdough breadcrumbs and chocolate igloo; Top Right: Greenlandic lamb from Narsaq with whipped parsnip; Bottom Right: smoked halibut from Ilulissat with a candied egg yolk (March 2015)

 

Left: Dried seal; Top Right: smoked Greenlandic salmon tartare two ways; Bottom Right: Greenlandic scallop with pea puree and seaweed cake (April 2015)

From Denmark and elsewhere, there are all the foods you could find in any grocery store in the world. (But, availability and variety are related to town size. Nuuk [the capital city] and other towns like Sisimiut, Ilulissat, and Qaqortoq are very well stocked. As you get into the smaller towns and villages, the selection becomes more limited.)

  1. Carbohydrates & Grains. Especially dark rye bread (rugbrød), baguettes, buns, full grain cereals, müsli, and many others.
  2. Fruits & Vegetables. It’s all imported, but you can find pretty much anything you want, save a few items. I’m not sure I have ever found an avocado?
  3. Saturated fats like cured meats, sausages, tons of cheeses, and paté.
  4. Dairy. Yogurt, milk, cheese. Even Icelandic Skyr.
  5. Sweets. Think of any dessert you have ever dreamed of, and it is here, but especially Danish pastries and anything with marzipan filling! And literally 30 varieties of Haribo candy 🙂

What are the challenges with the food industry in Greenland?

  1. Agriculture is virtually non-existent. There is very little arable soil in Greenland, so Greenland relies heavily on imported goods. The suitable soil that does exist is all in South Greenland, and farms are working toward growing fruit & vegetable crops for domestic distribution (like potatoes, strawberries, and lettuces, and there is even small-batch honey being made)! BUT at this time, there is not enough yield to support even the small Greenland population of 57,000 or the 60,000 annual tourists, so imports remain the largest food source.
  2. Greenland is an island. Every item that Greenland imports must come in via airplane or container ship.
  3. There is no domestic ground transportation. With no roads between towns and villages, every item that Greenland imports must also be distributed throughout the country via airplane or container ship. There are over 70 inhabited areas in Greenland, and many of them are inaccessible by boat for part of the year due to a frozen sea. For example, the East Greenland town of Ittoqqortoormiit (population: 444) receives only a few shipments by boat a year; the rest of the deliveries must be made by air. By the end of winter, you can imagine the residents are in dire need of variety and freshness! Nuuk’s shipment situation is not so drastic, but the wish for fresh ingredients remains. Check out my friend’s excitement to receive a bag of fresh lettuce as a housewarming gift!
  4. Food is expensive… because of #1-3. Not to mention, Greenland’s food imports are coming primarily from Denmark and Scandinavia, widely known as some of the most expensive countries in the world.

Tips for Tourists in Greenland

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Here you will find a lot of useful information about clothing, Internet/communications, transportation, language, food pricing, etc. in Greenland (in that order). It is a continual work in progress, and you are quite welcome to leave a message at this blog post with any questions or comments about these topics and others 🙂

I try to consider both tourists and people moving/staying for a while, but much of the information is applicable for everyone.

CLOTHES IN GREENLAND

* Bring items that are durable and have plenty of life left in them. Don’t come to Greenland with clothing that may not make it for the duration of your trip, i.e. jeans, shoes, etc. It’s not that replacing the items is hard, just that it is quite expensive to do so! While it may not be your thing to buy new items before a trip if you already have them, you would be wise to do it anyway if you have any doubt about their lifespan!

* Bring windproof and rainproof outerwear. Definitely bring a good jacket and a pair of pants that are wind- and rain-proof. They will come in handy both on the water for boat trips but also (and maybe more so) on land. The rain itself is not anything out of the ordinary, but rain plus wind makes for the potential to have very wet and uncomfortable clothing!

* Bring sturdy, supportive, and resilient footwear. Most people wear hiking boots or heavy-duty sneakers around town, and if you are going sailing or plan to be in wet areas, waterproof boots (wellies?) are best. If you are buying new shoes prior to your trip, I would highly recommend spending the extra money for a nice pair rather than skimping for something cheap. The worst-case scenario is that you must purchase new shoes in Greenland. As I mentioned before, it will probably be no problem to replace them, but it will be expensive.

* Bring many socks! For one thing, it’s just good to have extras, especially if you will be doing hiking or other outdoor activities. Nothing is worse than sitting in damp socks! For another thing, if you will be staying in or visiting a private home (for example, for Kaffemik or to visit a friend), the custom is to take your shoes off at the door and go around in your socks.

Funny story: I made the silly mistake once of wearing shoes without socks to Kaffemik. When I got to the door and saw all the other guests’ shoes lined up outside, I suddenly realized that I didn’t have socks on! So I ran home real quick to get socks! Fortunately I lived just across the street 🙂

* Bring clothing / accessories for many weathers. Layers are your best friend. The climate in Greenland is a bit tricky because there is very low humidity. What the forecast says and what the air temperature feels like can be two very different things. With no wind, it usually feels much warmer than it is. But if the wind picks up (and it probably will), it quickly starts to feel cold.

Basically, be prepared for many temperatures, many weathers, etc. Use multiple thin layers rather than a few thick layers to regulate your body temperature easily. Keep breathable, non-cotton materials close to your body; layer heavier knit/woven materials on top; always have windproof and waterproof outer layers available. And always have a pair of gloves and a hat available, even in summer.

* Check the weather. Make it a habit to check the weather daily, paying attention to temperature, wind, and precipitation. For one of the most comprehensive weather forecasts for towns and villages in Greenland, see Denmark’s Meteorological Institute – Town Weather.

COMMUNICATIONS / INTERNET IN GREENLAND

* AC Plug: You will need the 2-prong plug typical for continental Europe. It is the same for Iceland and Denmark, Greenland’s two largest connection points.

* Make an Internet game plan. You must pay for Internet in Greenland, and you must pay a lot, so you should decide before your trip whether you need/want to use the Internet or not. You can purchase Internet via wi-fi hotspots or, if you have a smartphone, you could use its data capabilities. (See next bullet.)

Cafés, hotels, airports, etc. use wi-fi hotspot systems in which you purchase a set amount of time (30 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hour, 24 hour) and you receive a unique log-in code and password to use. MOST times you are able to meter the time by logging in and out – for example, use 5 minutes here, 20 minutes there, etc. But I have found a few places in Greenland that do not allow metering.

The best rate for Internet I ever encountered was 3 hours of Internet (metering allowed) for 120 DKK (22 USD).

Know your phone’s international capabilities before you leave home. Is it unlocked for use with a local SIM card?  What are the international fees for calling, texting, and data usage? Does it make sense for you to buy a cheap phone for Greenland specifically?

For someone staying in Greenland for a short period, it might make the most sense to use your smartphone (if you have one) and purchase an international data plan via your home carrier. For reference, my international plan via Verizon Wireless is 30 USD for 100 MB of data, plus calling and texting. Every additional 100 MB of data is 25 USD, and it charges automatically.

For someone staying in Greenland for a long period, it might make sense to get a phone with a Greenlandic number, but be aware that probably only the larger towns will have places to buy such a setup (Nuuk, Sisimiut, Ilulissat, and Qaqortoq are my best guesses). A cheap one can be 490 DKK (84 USD) for the phone and 400 DKK (68 USD) for the SIM card, which comes pre-loaded with a call/text allowance called Tusas. It’s like a debit system for outgoing calls/texts, and incoming calls/texts are free.

General pricing for outgoing calls/texts:

  • Outgoing Local daytime call price (per minute, 7:00-18:00) 1.75 dkk = 0.30 USD
  • Outgoing Local evening call price (per minute, 18:00-07:00) 1.23 dkk = 0.20 USD
  • Outgoing Call tax (one time, per call) 0.15 dkk = 0.02 USD
  • Outgoing SMS price (per 160 character message) 0.33 dkk = 0.06 USD

So, the original SIM card purchase comes with approximately 114 minutes of outgoing calls or 567 outgoing SMS’s.

I personally use 2 phones when I am in Greenland, an iPhone 4S with an American phone # and a cheap Nokia phone with a Greenlandic phone #. I use the iPhone for calls/texts to people in the United States and for Internet usage away from home/office, and I use the Nokia phone for calls/texts to people in Greenland. Simple!

GROUND TRANSPORTATION IN GREENLAND

It is very easy to use the bus system in Greenland. There are buses in Nuuk, Sisimiut, Ilulissat, and Kangerlussuaq. Nuup Bussii (Nuuk’s bus system) is of course the largest.

In towns and villages without bus systems, you must either walk or use Taxi transportation.

A single ride costs 15 DKK (2.50 USD), and you pay with cash on the bus. Keep your ticket stub because it is valid for unlimited rides for up to 1.5 hours. It is easiest to pay with exact change, and I’m quite certain the bus driver will not accept a bill larger than 500 DKK.

In Nuuk, there are many routes that reach all parts of town, including city center, Nuussuaq neighborhood, the airport, and Qinngorput neighborhood (the new development approximately 5 km/3 mi outside city center). In general, buses run from 6 in the morning until midnight, and they reach any given stop twice an hour. Always consult the Schedule/Route Map for your specific needs. It is available online, and it is posted at every bus stop.

For someone staying in Greenland for a long period, there is the option of purchasing an 11-ride per month card or an unlimited ride per month card. It can only be purchased at the Nuup Bussii headquarters. It makes financial sense to get a card if you anticipate using the bus a lot because there is a slight price break and it is, of course, easier than finding change every time.

For transportation to Greenland, see How to Get to Greenland.

LANGUAGE IN GREENLAND

Greenland is a multi-lingual country. Greenlandic (called Kalaallisut) is the official mother tongue, Danish is the official second language, and English is a third language that children begin learning in the 4th class.

* Language can be a tricky topic. Without going into many details about history and politics, language in Greenland is not clear-cut. There are Greenlanders who are fluent in Greenlandic, Danish, and English. There are others who only know Greenlandic & Danish or Danish & English, and there are others who only know Greenlandic.

* From my personal experience, there are three very general trends regarding language proficiency.

  1. The larger the town, the more likely people are to be bilingual (Greenlandic & Danish or Danish & English) or trilingual (Greenlandic, Danish & English).
  2. The people that have consistent contact with tourists are more likely to be trilingual. This is a broad range of people from guides to restaurant bartenders/servers to airline staff, and so on.
  3. Many people are even proficient in a fourth language. Due to the closeness of the Danish language to other Scandinavian languages, this is typically Swedish and Norwegian. German is another common one!

Signs are most commonly posted in Greenlandic and Danish. As a very general rule: signs are posted in Greenlandic and Danish always and in English sometimes. See my extensive photo gallery of signs around many towns in Greenland for a good idea.

* There are Greenlandic language learning resources available. Here I will give general tips regarding language according to your trip purpose to Greenland, your mother tongue, and your motivation to pick up a foreign language. Below, I will simply list the Greenlandic language learning resources that I am personally familiar with. Others may exist.

The vast majority of Greenlandic language learning resources are produced in Danish.

    • For those traveling to Greenland for a short period (i.e. tourists).
        • For Danish speakers. If foreign language is not your thing, all signs, menus, etc. are posted in Danish so you will not have any problems getting along in Greenland. But if you want to pick up Greenlandic for fun, there is a Greenlandic-Danish dictionary (available online and in smartphone app form) that you can use. There is also a DVD set and a workbook available. See below for both.
        • For non-Danish speakersAs a very general rule: signs are posted in Greenlandic and Danish always and in English sometimes. (See my extensive photo gallery of signs around many towns in Greenland for a good idea.) But don’t worry – spoken English is much more common than written English. If foreign language is not your thing, my honest suggestion for reading signs, etc. that are not available in English is to have a translator tool on hand (for example, Google Translate). It will be easiest for you to do Danish-English or Danish-Your Language because the Danish language separates noun and verb words. In Greenlandic, it can be hard to pick out the nouns and verbs because it is a polysynthetic language and looks different from anything you have probably seen before. But if you want to pick up Greenlandic for fun, there is a Greenlandic-English DVD set available. See below. Or you can use the Greenlandic-Danish dictionary (online or smartphone app) or workbook. You will have to use a translator tool to supplement both of these.
    • For those traveling to Greenland for a long period (i.e. moving/staying a while). Coming soon.
        • For Danish speakers.
        • For non-Danish speakers.

List of Greenlandic language learning resources:

  1. Greenlandic-Danish dictionary, called “Ordbogit”. Produced by Oqaasileriffik (Greenland Language Secretariat). Available online and in Smartphone App form.
  2. Greenlandic-English or Greenlandic-Danish DVD called “Learn Greenlandic with Per Langgård“. Produced by Oqaasileriffik. Available online, and I have also seen it in Atuagkat bookstore in Nuuk.
  3. Greenlandic-Danish workbook called “Qanoq: Opgave- og Grammatikbog” by Helene Brochmann. I have seen it in the bookstore in Sisimiut and in Atuagkat bookstore in Nuuk.
  4. Language Center in Sisimiut, called Oqaatsinik Pikkorissarfik. Provides intensive classroom courses in Greenlandic.
  5. Private Language Courses by Katrine Andersen at Katri.gl.

FOOD IN GREENLAND

This topic is a work in progress, but as a start, here’s a very random list of various foods prices at the grocery store or fresh market. Prices are converted DKK to USD. Please note: the exchange rate will, of course, change constantly, but these prices can give a general idea of the cost of groceries in Greenland.

For this week’s up-to-date information on food/groceries in Greenland, the two grocery stores chains, Pisiffik and Brugseni, post their Weekly Specials flyers online. You will have to convert DKK to your own currency, of course 🙂 test.

Pisiffik – Click on “Tilbudsavis” (Specials Flyer), then “Denne Uges Avis” (This Week’s Fyler).

Brugseni – Click on PDF icon that says “Uge 30” or “Uge 31” etc. (Week 30, Week 31)

* Prices for Greenlandic products (ex: reindeer, muskox, ptarmigan, sea mammals, fish, etc.) are set by the individual municipalities when sold at independent markets like Kalaaliaraq in Nuuk or Qimatulivik in Sisimiut. The prices of Greenlandic products in the Meat section below represent Qeqqata Kommunia, the Arctic Circle Region municipality.

MEAT

Steak 176 dkk/kg = $14.72/lb

Chicken breast 88 dkk/kg = $7.36/lb

Pork chops 90 dkk/kg = $7.53/lb

Fresh Reindeer 90 dkk/kg = $7.53/lb

Dried Reindeer 400 dkk/kg = $33.46/lb

Fresh Muskox 90 dkk/kg = $7.53/lb

Dried Muskox 400 dkk/kg = $33.46/lb

Snow hare 150 dkk each = $27.61 each

Ptarmigan 65 dkk each = $12 each

Fresh fish (cod, redfish, trout, salmon, capelin, halibut) 45-60 dkk/kg = $3.74-$5.02/lb

Smoked fish (trout, salmon, halibut) 180 dkk/kg = $15.06/lb

Lumpfish roe (Stenbider rogn) 60 dkk/kg = $5.02/lb

Fresh Whale meat (various species) 45-55 dkk/kg = $3.76-$4.60/lb

Whale mattak (various species) 100-250 dkk/kg = $8.37-$20.91/lb

Seal, various species (meat & organs) 45-60 dkk/kg = $3.76-$5.02/lb

PANTRY

Rugbrød 28 dkk for a loaf = $4.75 for a loaf

Wild Rice 35 dkk for 1000 g = $6.44 for 35 oz

Whole grain cereal 45 dkk for 375 g = $8 for 13 oz

Müsli 28 dkk for 1000 g = $5.15 for 35 oz

Fusili pasta 11 dkk for 500 g = $2 for 18 oz

Pasta sauce 17 dkk for 480 g jar = $3.12 for 17 oz jar

Wasa crackers (Delikatess, Frukost) 22 dkk for 285 g = $4 for 10 oz

Raisins 20 dkk for 300 g = $3.68 for 10.5 oz

Canned beans 17 dkk for 250 g = $3.13 for 9 oz

Marmelade 15 dkk for 400 g = $2.75 for 14 oz

Specialty Pesto sauce 14 dkk for 130 g = $2.58 for 4.5 oz

Pickwick tea bags 22 dkk for a box of 20 = $4 for a box

DAIRY

Yogurt 21 dkk for 1000 g = $3.87 for 35 oz.

Specialty yogurt (Icelandic Skyr) 30 dkk for 500 g = $5.52 for 17.6 oz

Sliced cheese 29 dkk = $4.91 for a pack

Large wedge Parmigiano Reggiano 50 dkk = $8.41 for a wedge

Cheese with Herbs 18.25 dkk for 114 g = $3.36 for 4 oz

FRESHIES

Apples 4 dkk each = $0.75 each

Bag onions 15 dkk = $2.52 for a bag

FROZEN

Mushrooms 22 dkk for 400 g = $3.70 for 14 oz

Haricot Vert Green Beans 22 dkk for 700 g = $4 for 25 oz

Peas 25 dkk for 400 g = $4.20 for 14 oz

Chopped Spinach 13 dkk for 450 g = $2.40 for 16 oz

ALCOHOL

White wine 39 dkk for 200 ml = $6.56 for 8 oz bottle

White wine 89 dkk for 750 ml = $15 for 25 oz bottle

Royal Summer beer 102 dkk for 6 pack = $17 per 6 pack, or $2.83/beer)

Beer & soda bottle deposit 2 dkk per bottle (refundable) = $0.33 per bottle – Greenland imports almost all of its beer and all of its soda, but it bottles the beverages locally.

Beer at a Bar 40 dkk for 200 ml = $6.80 for 6.75 oz (or $1/oz)

Beer at a Bar 75 dkk for 400 ml = $12.75 for 13.5 oz (or $0.94/oz)

Beer at a Bar 98 dkk for 600 ml = $16.70 for 20 oz (or $0.84/oz)

TOILETRIES

Nivea shower gel 51 dkk for 750 ml bottle = $8.63 for 25 oz bottle

Tampons 37 dkk for box of 20 = $6.26 for box of 20

Generic shampoo 12.45 dkk for 750 ml bottle = $2.11 for 25 oz bottle

Disposable razors 12.5 dkk for bag of 4 = $2.12 for bag of 4

KAFFEMIK IN GREENLAND

Kaffemik is a fun gathering of friends and family to celebrate birthdays, births, graduations, new homes, and other milestones! The person of honor hosts at his or her own home and provides coffee, tea, cakes, sweets, bread, and oftentimes Greenlandic specialities like reindeer, muskox, whale, seal, fish, etc. Kaffemik events are extremely common and can happen any day of the week, but they are most common on weekends when many people are free. The entire event typically lasts for multiple hours, but guests usually only stay for a short visit.

Should you be invited to Kaffemik, these are some general guidelines to being a delightful guest. Please note, some tour companies do offer Kaffemik as an activity. In this case, the gift is not necessary. Please consult the tour company with any questions.

  • Always take your shoes off before entering the person’s home (so wear socks!).
  • Taste as many of the cakes and food as possible! They are delicious!
  • Only stay a short while – enough time for a couple cups of coffee, say – so to give others the chance to take a seat and enjoy also.
  • Bring a gift for the person of honor – something around 50-100 DKK worth (9-17 USD) is nice.