Stinky Foods: 10 Weird Facts About Kiviak

February 15, 2012

If you have a sensitive stomach, you might not want to ever try kiviak, a bizarre traditional dish made of fermented sea birds. kiviak is native to northern Greenland, where it's considered a delicacy. Read on for 10 weird facts about kiviak.


  1. Kiviak is prepared by fermenting 300 to 500 auk birds into a bag made of seal skin and covered in seal fat.
  2. The auk-filled seal skin is left to ferment between 3 and 18 months.
  3. The seal's fat acts as a tenderizer and preservative, enabling people to eat the birds raw, including their bones.
  4. Many eat kiviak by biting off the bird's head and then sucking out the juices inside.
  5. Kiviak is exceptionally pungent and reportedly tastes like matured cheese.
  6. Kiviak is considered a special treat to celebrate weddings, birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions.
  7. Greenland Inuits ate kiviak; the delicacy has also been linked to Alaska and Canada.
  8. Kiviak is usually eaten outside to prevent smelling up the home for weeks.
  9. Kiviak used to help Greenlanders combat vitamin deficiencies as they transitioned from primarily eating raw meat to eating cooked meat.
  10. The unusual preservation method used to make kiviak helped Greenlanders survive harsh winters and food shortages.

Editor's note: Stinky Foods is a new weekly series that focuses on unusually pungent foods from around the world. Tune in next week for a new smelly delicacy.



David Gerrie's picture

Hi there,

I'm writing a piece for CNN GO, CNN's travel website, on some of the world's most exotic foods and was wondering if we could the pix of Kiviak from your website (
Would it be possible for you to send me some pix of the dish, including a correct credit - hi-res' jpeg's will do fine.
Many thanks in advance for any help you may be able to offer.


David Gerrie


Gerrie Associates
(01580) 200574 (office)
(07774) 431 697 (mobile)