It is the new year and it is a custom to have a new food.
I recently read a book called “WALRUS” which is, as you might guess from the title, a cultural and natural history of the walrus.
It included a discussion of Yupik and Inuit cuisine. Colonialist explorers disdained this cuisine and even opted to get malnutrition eating the salted cod and grog packed away on their ships, but it was quite sophisticated. They would, for example, take a walrus flipper and allow it to decompose for a year before eating it. The most prized part of a walrus given to the lead on a walrus hunt was the stomach, because it was full of the fattest clams and oysters, which the walrus dug up from the sea floor, not with its tusks, as you might think — those were for fighting — but but blasting clams with water and then shelling them with its prehensile lips and whiskers.
I digress. It brought to mind a story I had heard in Alaska that after a whale kill the indigenous people’s would celebrate with “Inuit” or “Eskimo” ice-cream, which was made of snow, blubber, and local berries.
My friend Goldbloom told me that whale smells a bit like burning motor oil. A powerful taste. I would not eat a whale, because of how sophisticated they are, and also it violates the marine mammals protection act. So I ordered a powerful oily sea creature on the internet — the herring. I got it smoked and in cans, to make the taste more intense.
I also ordered cloudberry preserve although that has not come yet. But the herring did come. So I mixed it with frozen blueberries and ice in the blender.
It was a light blue color and smelled like smoky fish. The experience was cold, smoky, oily, and sweet — I added a little sage honey.
On SNL they mocked people who ate fish in a blender and I absorbed some of this prejudice — that frozen treats must be sweet not savory, and that fish is something to eat salted not sweetened. But these prejudices turn out to be foolish.
My home-made Inuit Ice Cream is amazing — it may be my favorite food.
L’Shana Tova — may you be inscribed for a new year that is both sweet and surprising.