Winter Arctic symphony in Greenland : flavours of paradise
Episode 5 / 8
A good night sleep. First thing to do in the morning here : draw the curtain to see the splendid view over the fjord. I would be a fool to get tired of this. I enjoy looking at the little houses down the hotel, at the fjord and the icebergs, noticing the back and forth of fishermen boats. And I can’t help opening the door to get this freezing air that I love so much. Inside it’s always too warm for me, I like to feel the cold touching and kissing my cheeks before starting the day. And for today, wind will be at its best because I am going on the icefjord cruise !! I think I am ready by adding one pair of silk and one pair of wool socks to the previous ones + one extra legging and a white chapka. I look like I have a rabbit crashed on my face because my fur hat is too big for my head and the two sides of the chapka cover not only my ears but also my face…. Ha ha ha ! At least the rabbit corpse will see loads of icebergs today. Likewise.
Let’s go to the harbour. This place is one of my favorite spot in Ilulissat. It looks like the starting point of everything, every dreams…
Ilulissat harbour © Food is a story
Harbour, Ilulissat © Food is a story
The weather is terrific ! Blue sky, no clouds, sun is shining and the boat is purring. The cruise begins…The waves are playing with the boat. I try to dance with them by letting my whole body feels each of their move without opposing any extra energy. My knees are slightly bending to go with the rythm, the sea rythm. A divine massage. So relaxing. And the nature keeps my mind mesmerized by visions of impressive icebergs. They are all around us, all different : shape, size, texture, colour, personnality. Like fingerprints, all originals. Some are polished and shine, others are rough and rugged. Some others are smooth as silk and they make you want to slide on their downhill… Colours are everywhere : intense white, blueish-white, stripes of turquoise… lined up by the blue water. Their shape is always a surprise : a hole over here, a flat top there, straight cut / curves /vertical cracks / snow “boulders” at the bottom. Greenland loves land art!
It’s bitterly cold, most of the tourists are now inside the boat to have a cup of tea and get warmer but a few of them are still on the deck admiring the icy scenery. I am one of the few who stays outside. My feet are freezing but I want to have the most out of it, enjoying every minute, each second until there is no time left. I came to savour Greenland with my eyes, my heart, my lips, my tongue. With my whole body. I want to know all its flavours. Greenland, I have been waiting for you, longing for you. Here I am now, smiling at you and listening to your very own song : the winter arctic symphony…
Iceberg © Food is a story
Disko Bay © Food is a story
Iceberg, Disko Bay © Food is a story
Iceberg © Food is a story
Iceberg © Food is a story
Icebergs © Food is a story
Icebergs © Food is a story
Back to the harbour. The cruise is over. I take a stroll. Taking a stroll in Ilulissat means going up and down, there is no flat road. A never ending roller coaster of some sort is the DNA of the town.
Ilulissat © Food is a story
Ilulissat © Food is a story
Time to go back to the hotel to meet my friends for the dinner. Table booked at Mamartut for 19:00. The greenlandic name means “it tastes good”. Such a perfect name! It ravishes my appetite J We are welcomed by the danish cook and owner Kim Pedersen ! I like the chef’s hat and the style of his restaurant.
Kim Pedersen, Chef and owner of « Mamartut » restaurant in Ilulissat © Food is a story
Cosy with a greenlandic decoration.We feel at home right away. I am hungry for modern greenlandic cuisine and am mouth watering with the menu card : “Gabriel and Julia, what about an apéritif ? A crowberry snaps ?” The chef says the berries are picked up in these mountains, close to the restaurant. I will definitely go for that one. Julia follows me. I want to swallow Greenland tonight. Skål ! Kasugta ! Cheers !
Crowberry snaps, Mamartut, Ilulissat © Food is a story
Let the greenlandic beverage makes his way through my body and lightly clouds my brain. Julia informs the chef that she is vegetarian. She can’t eat fish. The cook replies : “Ok, but what about the meat ?” Puzzled by his question, Julia repeats she can’t eat fish as she is vegetarian. The chef insists with a serious expression on his face “Ok, but what about the meat ?” This makes me laugh out loud for several long minutes !! So unexpected. That was excellent ! Very Monty Python’s Flying circus humour style ! LOVE it ! Great introduction. After his joke, he says next time “please inform me before so I can anticipate”. Julia adds : “if you have pasta and tomatoes, it will be perfect”. Kim Pedersen thinks over and says, “just let me see what I have.” A few seconds away and he already comes back from his kitchen. “Ok, let me think”. We can literally see his idea popping into his head. “I’ve got it : I will make a soup with pumpkin adding this with that [bla bla bla]”. I can’t remember the whole description but it sounded amazing and extremely yummy. I say : “We all want to be vegetarian now !”. That was the first time someone was doing so much efforts to please Julia’s vegetarian palate. Impressive and very nice. We hear him cooking in the kitchen, a beautiful sound ! I am crazy about food and love to hear this tune instead of the awful microwave’s bip bip alarm. I like to hear food frying in the pan, the sound of a deglazing. Saucepans bumping into each others. The soup comes and the scent of it makes my nose vibrate with pleasure. Wow ! Julia tastes the dish and she invites me to try as it is so good. I lift the spoon to my open mouth and close my lips swallowing the hot liquid. Wow ! That is god damned good ! Gabriel and me suggest the chef to put it on the menu next time. My whale carpaccio with marinated angelica is also excellent and the white wine selected by the chef goes so well with it.
Whale carpaccio with angelica, Marmatut, Ilulissat © Food is a story
Gabriel can’t help himself asking about chances to spot northern lights tonight. The chef says, “Uh, let me see”. All of a sudden, we see him leaving the restaurant and closing the door behind him. There are only us in the room. No chef anymore. Where is he ? What is going on ? I smile amused by his strange attitude. He comes back from outside and says : “chances are pretty good, clear sky with stars”. Oh, he was outside, looking at the sky… I roar with laughter, this guy is so funny.
We keep on chatting and enjoying the food when the chef calls : “northern light “! We all rush outside and see the green curve up in the sky. Good timing, the dinner is at its end, we pay the bill and thank him for this sweet and funny evening before dashing out again. Gabriel runs towards the hotel to get his tripod and Julia and I walk down the hill and just stop to lay down on the comfortable snowy ground to watch the arctic light show. It feels so good. The northern light is dancing and strecthing in front our very eyes. A beautiful colored stripe among the stars…. When it goes away, the night is not over. I have planned to go listening to live music at “Naleraq” and Julia is willing to come with me. We stand up, wipe out the snow from our ski trousers and head to the local pub. There is a very small fee for the entrance ticket (20dkk). Not many people around, it’s a bit too early (23:00) but the young greenlandic group is already playing rock music on the scene. Very nice ! We choose our table, take off our jackets and enjoy being here. Julia says : “it’s great! A very local experience. I am glad to experience that“ Yes, that is so true. That was exactly what I was looking for.
What about drinking a mojito ? We go to the bar and ask the very very young barmaid. He looks like he’s 14 years old. He has no idea of what a mojito is, looks at the drinks menu and doesn’t find it. We are amused to see him so puzzled and lost, I think he is amused too by our strange request. He calls an older woman (his mother ?) sitting in the room, she comes closer and says we don’t have mojito but here is our cocktails list. When I look around in the big room, I can see that bottles of beer are everywhere on the tables but cocktails are not quite popular. Anyway, we pick up a cockail randomly among the names hoping it will not be too sweet. The greenlandic woman is very friendly and serves our drinks with a huge smile. We go back to our table beating time to music with our feet. The singer has a really warm voice and….Oh oh oh ! He wears the Mojo Blues Bar København tee-shirt !! Come on, this is my favorite live music bar in Copenhagen ! I was there again having fun just before my departure to Greenland ! Sometimes in life things are moving in circle and it’s fantastic ! I recommend that place to Julia as I know she and Gabriel will spend days in the danish capital after their greenlandic trip. The room starts to get packed with people. We seem to be the only tourists tonight. Greenlandic faces everywhere, smiling. We are on Friday, last day of the working week so everybody wants to enjoy. A feeling of feast is in the air ! People are dancing on the dancefloor. No inhibition, just the joy to move with the rythm. Free as birds. One, not so young, couple starts a very very sensual dance. Happiness in their heart. Alcohol has already made some heads turn upside down and two people are falling asleep in their chairs…. Julia and I have probably drank much more than some of them but their body is less resistant. A man doing the security keeps eye on them to be sure everything will be allright. They are not violent at all but I guess the fear is that they loose consciouness and sink in an alcoholic coma. This is also one of the major problem in Greenland, alcoholism. Julia and I think it is a bit sad when we see them like that. But who am I to judge ? French people are no better. In France, we are the first ones in the world to shoot ourselves with anxiolytics and antidepressants to reduce psychological pain. So I decide to stop feeling this sadness. How do I know what is good for people or not ? I don’t have that power. They have. The only thing that I can say is that in this room there are smiles everywhere and people are willing to communicate. Two women sit next to my table. Julia is at the bar. They begin to talk to me. I see their faces happy when I tell them in danish that I come from France and my friend from Brazil. They say their names, I tell mine. I add I love Greenland. I wish I could say more. Not a lot of spoken words have been pronounced. They shake my hands, our eyes are trapped into each others for a second that seems much longer as if the time has stopped. Joy between us. Pure joy. Heart to heart communication. The purest one.
Julia is a bit tired. We decide go back to the hotel. But before I ask if she would mind going with me to Murphy’s discotheque ? Just to take a quick look inside. I have heard it was for younger people but I am too curious… She agrees. Oh Julia, you are so great ! Let’s open the door of that place. Music is indeed for younger ones. The bar looks nice. Some light spots add some colours to the room. People are young locals. One of the greenlandic girl is dancing a kind of pole dance without the pole ! The man who is with her leaves the dancefloor and she keeps on dancing alone. Very involved in her dance ! Now it’s time for us to go.
In the Hvide Falk Hotel corridor, we wish each other sweet dreams. I close my door, look at my watch : it shows 02:00. Oh it is that late !
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Author : Food is a story