Experiencing the Traditional Delicacy of Whale Meat in the Faroe Islands
Our contributor shares a unique experience while visiting the chain of 18 islands in the North Atlantic Ocean
The Faroe Islands are a chain of 18 islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of Scotland and right between Iceland and Norway. The people of the islands have a true Viking heritage, with Norwegian and Celtic backgrounds. You can get there by taking the Faroese airlines, Atlantic Airlines...and financially, it makes sense to make a grand trip out of it by flying from Reykjavik, Iceland (other flight origin options include places like Denmark and Norway). If you prefer the sea to air, there are also car ferries that will take you to the Faroes from Iceland.
In such a rarely remarked upon part of Europe, what do the people there eat? I first heard about the Faroes on Animal Planet's show Whale Wars, where its rather insufferable protagonist, Paul Watson, challenged the right of the islanders to eat what they've been eating for 1,000 years — the Pilot whale. You might be surprised to find that out that quite a few cultures consider whale a delicacy. The Pilot whale (which is quite small with a strong flavor) is what people mainly eat in the Faroes; there are several varieties of whale that people all over the planet enjoy.
While traditional restaurants can be great, you should definitely try out an in-home meal once or twice. In Søldarfjørður, a certain Mr. and Mrs. Hansen have what they call a "home visit" for lunch or dinner at their house — a private experience, though during busy times, there may be other diners present. In what was once the family's work shed (people in the Faroes do a lot of meat and fish drying) is the charming dinner space for visitors, where you will find vintage family photos and a large dining table. If you wish, you can also dine privately in their garden with a stunning vista of mountains and the sea. Make arrangements in advance for dinner, which will probably work out to be about $50 US per person. Additionally, they can arrange hiking in the nearby mountains, fishing, and even sheep farming!
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