“Walrus, it’s what’s for Dinner”
In February 2012, I flew to Bethel for the day for work with my colleague. She had meetings that evening and she introduced me to her friend who invited me over for dinner. On the menu was walrus.
Walrus is considered a delicacy in Yup’ik culture, according to my host. I had never eaten walrus before and did not know what to expect. I was willing to try it, especially, I did not want to be rude.
She, her mother-in-law and I sat down at the table. We each helped ourselves to the walrus in a stove pot mixed with rice and broth. I served myself a little bit of meat and a little bit of the skin.
At my first spoonful, I understood why it’s considered a delicacy! The walrus meat was chewy and the exterior melted in my mouth. I’ll do my best in describing an indescribable food.
The walrus is cooked for about five hours on the stovetop. The meat part is the consistency of boeuf. The exterior, given the slow cooking process melts. The broth is good for your blood flow. It’s not a ‘gamey’ tasting food.
In the jar is seal oil. It is a staple of the Yup’ik diet and enhances flavors and adds a special yumminess. Seal oil is like a Yup’ik condiment such as ketchup with a cheeseburger. In the top left is similar-to-traditional style akutaq (a-goo-d-ak). Traditionally, the akutaq base would be whipped reindeer fat. Today, Crisco is whipped to a light, fluffy consistency. My grandmother also adds finely flaked white fish. She adds blueberries, salmonberries of cranberries she picks from the tundra and adds sugar. My host used yogurt instead.