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Maktak

Preparing maktak (narwhal skin)

Two sets of hands chop food in preparation for dinner; Jenny works on vegetables while Alex cuts maktak, or narwhal skin.

A tale of two lunches. I prepare carrots, cheese, hummus and veggies (plus that special Arctic tomato), while Alex gets her maktak ready.

Maktak is narwhal skin with a thin layer of fat. It’s eaten raw – this piece had been in the freezer until Alex thawed it in the microwave. She uses an ulu to score the surface; she eats some plain and some with soy sauce and/or seasoning salt. The oil is very smooth and clean tasting.

This is from one of many narwhal that were forced into a small area of open water in December. When the ice freezes in like that, the narwhal are unlikely to survive, and it’s a gift for a hunting community like this one that knows how to provide for itself.

Money rarely changes hands when the hunters come back.

Alex says, “We get regular food from the grocery store, sure, but this stuff is kind of priceless.”

Photo by Eric Guth

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