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

Up to 500 whole auks are packed into the seal skin. 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.[1] Over the course of three months, the birds ferment,[1] and are then eaten during the arctic winter, particularly on birthdays and weddings.[2]

Preparation of kiviak is not an easy task. One sealskin rooms about 500 auks, so catching the birds must be the most complicated part. The birds are packed into sealskin with beaks and feathers. The stuffing is to be wrapped into the skin until there's no more air left. Then it's sewn up, and placed under the heap of stones. The biggest one is put right atop in order to push the remaining air out of the skin.[3]

The taste of kiviak is similar to strong Gorgonzola cheese.

The process was featured in the third episode of BBC's Human Planet in 2011.[1]

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 gave those that ate it botulism.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "TV review: Human Planet". The Guardian. 27 January 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Freuchen, Dagmar (1960). Peter Freuchen's Adventures in the Arctic. New York: Messner. p. 81. 
  3. ^ "Kivak Season in Greenland 2018". 23 May 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2018. 
  4. ^ "Greenland terducken from hell: the real bird-seal meal". The Fourth Continent. 2013-08-07. Retrieved 15 February 2014. 

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