Sunday, 22 February 2009

Greenlandic breakfasts

Top: Up and about early in Nuuk. Below: Typical Danish/Greenlandic breakfast ingredients: heavy rye bread, margarine, and salami

'It's all about the food!' one of my friends once e-mailed me gleefully, in response to yet another detailed account from me of my latest gastronomic exploits. Yes, indeed, it seems I travel nowhere, from round the corner to my favourite cafe, to Tate Britain in London, to the Greenlandic coastal ferry, without constantly thinking about, assessing, and enjoying the food. Unfortunately Greenland is one of the more expensive places in the world to indulge this little daily pleasure, but I did manage to eat well and enjoy the experience, without going permanently in debt.

Breakfast rolls and cheesy mushroom spread

To begin, then, with the start of the day. If you've visited Denmark, Greenlandic breakfasts will come as little surprise. They're heavy on the salami and other cold sliced meats, served smorrebrod style on heavy rye bread, or on special breakfast rolls. The bread may also be spread with a variety of soft cheesy spreads flavoured with mushrooms, etc., or covered with cheese sliced with the Danish cheese-slicing gadget. This last, initially puzzling device, is like a small single-stringed violin - the string being a wire with which you peel a thin perfect layer off the top of the block of cheese, which may be lurking in packaging that makes it look like butter to North Americans.

The Danish cheese-cutting gizmo in action. Greenlanders would not make such a mess of the cheese!

Dairy features heavily in the Greenlandic breakfast, despite all having to be imported from Denmark, as although there are some sheep in the far south of Greenland, as far as I know there is no dairy industry. I certainly didn't see (or hear) any cows. So breakfast often typically includes a glass of milk, or yogurt poured from a carton. Coffee, yes, which is fairly strong if a coffee maker is used, and butter and jam or preserves for the breakfast rolls, which are toasted on clever countertop grill/toaster appliances that run on a timer.

Toasting breakfast roll

My landlady at the bed and breakfast where I stayed in Nuuk just let me get on with things, and once I learned where things were kept and what foods were for me, I got my own breakfast. Things were pretty laid back, and she wasn't really a morning person... After she went to work, I would potter around the apartment, enjoying the breakfast and the views.

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