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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

An ox moron by John von Daler

I asked a #Greenlander about his favorite food. 
We were having a beer together and looking out 
at the snow from a house on a hill in Nuuk. Ravens 
landed every once in a while on the roof above our 
window and shook down some silken showers of 
powdered snow. He said:

You know, we don't very often get the chance
to maintain our traditions the way we should.
Hunting and fishing don't always fit in with
modern life in Greenland.
I do what I can to go hunting once or twice
a year at most, and he looked sternly at me, and
don't give me any comments about animal
welfare. I use personally every bit of the animals
I hunt - as you must remember from our meal
I did indeed remember the head of a cod,
including the eyes, being eaten with gusto. I had
felt ashamed at whatever priggishness that had
held me back from participating in that part of
the meal. He went on:
I usually hunt for musk ox. They are fast, large
and wary of movement, sound and scent. It takes time
and cunning even to get one in your sights what
with the dogs and your sled and whatever tricks the
weather may play on you.
If you are lucky enough to aim at one and 
are even more lucky to shoot it, then you have to
get your sled over to it, make sure the musk ox
is dead, skin it and transport everything back
to town by sled. 
When I've been lucky enough to shoot one,
I usually cut out the heart first, open the
stomach cavity and put the heart into the
stomach itself, which is filled with wild herbs and 
warm acidic fluid. Then I go about skinning the 
animal. That usually takes about an hour.
After the skin is off I retrieve the heart
from the stomach. By this time it has literally been 
boiled in herbs in the warm sack. I take a sharp 
knife and cut off thin strips of the heart and eat them.
The taste of this meat, eaten after a hunt while
sitting all tired out on a sled in the snow, is the best 
taste in the world.
And that, my American musician friend, you will 
never ever taste!
As usual, the man was right. Even a very violent
violin won't catch you a musk ox.

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