We wanted to see the northern lights, Aurora Borealis, and so Lucas and I planned a trip to Norway. We read that the best time to see the auroras was during the winter, but soon discovered that all major tour operators did not “operate” during this time. Winter can be very harsh in Norway, specially in the north, hence we went in October: still very cold, but with clear skies.
The northern lights can also be seen in Canada, Alaska, Sweden, Iceland and other locations close to the magnetic poles (Yes, they can also be seen in the south but those are called Aurora Australis), but the reason we chose Norway was, once again, the food. In 2011 we had such an amazing gastronomic experience in Iceland, Sweden and Denmark that we decided to go back for more.
We started out in Oslo and moved north passing through Bergen, Ålesund, Trondheim and a bunch of other small towns until we got to Trømso, located approximately 350 km. north of the Arctic Circle; where our trip ended.
On our 3rd or 4th day in Trømso we were headed to the Arctic Cathedral and since we had some time ahead of us, Lucas suggested to walk around the port. As it is to expect from us, always thinking about food, we saw a very small shop with a sign that read A. Dragøy Fisk Reker. A few seconds after realizing that Fisk means fish we found ourselves inside the little fish shop looking for some unusual things to eat.
At the beginning we were a bit skeptical whether to ask if they had whale meat or not, but we soon overcame the fear of the fishmonger giving us “the look” and popped the question. Much to our surprise they had whale steaks; and not only did the fishmonger not give us “the look”, but he also told us (with a broken english) the best way to cook them. On top of that, the steaks were very cheap: 102 NOK compared to, at least, 800 NOK for a set menu in a restaurant. Needless to say, we never made it to the Arctic Cathedral that day.
Excited with our finding, we went back to the apartment (I prefer to stay in apartments when I travel as opposed to a hotel room simply because it gives me the idea of what it would be like to live in that place. That and having my own kitchen) and cooked the steaks.
Though the cooked steaks look and taste like beef, they are from Minke whale. You can see that the raw ones are darker than regular beef steaks. This is because whale meat has a higher iron content. It also has less fat and more proteins than beef. I would not suggest eating more than one steak since the meat has a fishy aftertaste that can be a bit cloying, but in the right amount it is delicious.
I know that whaling is a sensitive matter, but I do not mean to encourage the killing of whales by having eaten it or writing this post. I do not take sides. It was there, I ate it!
I recommend reading Acquired Tastes: on the trail of the world’s most sought-after delicacies by Prof. Massimo Marcone of the University of Guelph, Canada. It has a very interesting chapter about whale meat that reminded me of my trip to Norway.
Lucas is my partner in crime. We travel together and have an appetite for the same things, regardless how weird they might be. He is also a huge contributor to Exploreating, since many of the photos are his.
If you want to know more about the trip, the accommodation or where to find whale meat and how to cook it, don’t be shy and drop me a line (or two).