From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alternative namesKiviaq
Region or stateGreenland
Main ingredientsLittle auk

Kiviak or kiviaq is a traditional wintertime Inuit food from Greenland that is made of little auks (Alle alle), a type of seabird, fermented in a seal skin.

Up to 500 whole auks are packed into the seal skin, beaks and feathers included.[1] As much air as possible is removed from the seal skin before it is sewn up and sealed with seal fat, which repels flies. It is then hidden in a heap of stones, with a large rock placed on top to keep the air out.[2] Over the course of three months, the birds ferment,[2] and are then eaten during the Arctic winter, particularly on birthdays and weddings.[3]

The process was featured in the third episode of BBC's Human Planet in 2011.[2]

Knud Rasmussen's death is attributed to food poisoning by kiviaq.[4][5] In August 2013 several people died in Siorapaluk from eating kiviak that was made from eider rather than auk. Eider does not ferment as well as auk, and those who ate it contracted botulism.[6]

See also[edit]

  • Surströmming – swedish fermented Baltic Sea herring
  • Hákarl – national dish of Iceland consisting of fermented shark
  • Igunaq – method of preparing meat, particularly walrus and other marine mammals
  • List of delicacies – food item that is considered highly desirable in certain cultures


  1. ^ "Kivak Season in Greenland 2018". 23 May 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "TV review: Human Planet". The Guardian. 27 January 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  3. ^ Freuchen, Dagmar (1960). Peter Freuchen's Adventures in the Arctic. New York: Messner. p. 81.
  4. ^ Magazine, Smithsonian. "Eating Narwhal". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  5. ^ "Review: This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland by Gretel Ehrlich". the Guardian. 16 February 2002. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  6. ^ "Greenland terducken from hell: the real bird-seal meal". The Fourth Continent. 7 August 2013. Archived from the original on 30 July 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2014.

External links[edit]