Snowkiting is becoming big in Norway. At first glance it looks like some extreme fun in harmony with nature. After all, you’re just zipping across the snow while being dragged by a kite. It looks environmentally friendly.
Not true, says a new scientific study. The BBC reports that Norwegian scientists have discovered the kites spook reindeer and may have a negative impact on their population.
The scientists studied the response of reindeer to skiers and snowkiters and found that the reindeer showed a much greater fright response to snowkiting. They theorize that it’s the swooping kite that scares the animals. Because the kite is visible from farther away than someone on skis, reindeer are running far away. This may limit their feeding and breeding grounds.
The study concludes that controls need to be put in place to ensure reindeer aren’t harmed by this new craze.
What constitutes “food” is relative, depending upon what part of the world you call home. In Asia, pretty much anything on no (snakes), two, four, six, or eight legs is up for grabs. Europe, however, has its own culinary oddities, as detailed below. Got maggots?
Iceland Hákarl: Fermented, dried Greenland or basking shark. This tasty treat is prepared by burying the beheaded and gutted shark in a shallow hole in the ground for six to 12 weeks. Unsurprisingly, the end result is considered noxious to pretty much everyone on the planet aside from Icelanders.
Norway Smalahove: Boiled lamb’s head, traditionally served at Christmas. The brain is removed, and the head salted and dried before boiling. Because they’re the fattiest bits, the ear and eye are eaten first. More fun than a wishbone.
Sardinia (yes, it’s in Italy, but this one deserved its own listing) Casu marzu: This sheep’s milk cheese has maggots added to it during ripening, because their digestive action creates an “advanced level” of fermentation (also known as “decomposition”). Some people prefer to eat the soupy results sans critters, while the stout of heart go for the whole package. Be forewarned: according to Wikipedia, irate maggots can propel themselves for distances up to six inches. Here’s fly in your eye.
Northern Sweden or Finland Lappkok: Thischarmingly-named concoction consists of blodpalt–a dumpling made with reindeer blood and wheat or rye flour–served with reindeer bone marrow. Well, Santa’s herd had to retire sometime.
Sweden Lutefisk: This dried whitefish treated with lye is beloved by Scandinavians and their American Midwestern ancestors (let’s just say it’s an acquired taste). It’s traditionally served with potatoes or other root vegetables, gravy or white sauce, and akvavit.
Scotland Haggis: Who doesn’t love a cooked sheep’s stomach stuffed with its lungs, heart, and liver, combined with oatmeal?
Poland Nozki: Literally “cold feet,” this dish of jellied pig’s trotters isn’t as repulsive as it sounds. The meat is simmered with herbs and spices until falling off the bone, and set in gelatin. Think of how much fun this would be as a Jello shooter.
Ukraine Salo: The cured fatback of pork is actually quite delicious, and similar to Italian lardo when seasoned. It’s chopped and used as a condiment, or eaten straight-up on bread. Plan your angioplasty accordingly. England/Ireland Black (or blood) pudding: Technically a sausage, this mixture of animal blood (usually pork), spices, fat, and oatmeal or other grains is surprisingly good. It’s served uncooked, fried, grilled, or boiled. Sound bad? At least it’s not called Spotted Dick.
Italy Stracotto d’asino: A northern Italian donkey stew, often served as a pasta sauce. Donkey and horse are eaten throughout Italy, but this particular dish is a specialty of Veneto, and Mantua, in Lombardy.
France Tête de veau: You have to love that the venerable French culinary bible, Larousse Gastronomique, describes this dish of boiled calf’s head as, “a gelatinous variety of white offal.” Mmm. While there are many different preparations for the classical dish, it was traditionally served with cocks’ combs and kidneys, calves sweetbreads, and mushrooms.
Eastern Europe P’tcha: A calves’ foot jelly enjoyed by Ashkenazi Jews throughout this part of Europe. It’s uh, high in protein.
Germany Zungenwurst: This sausage is made of pork blood and rind; pickled ox tongue, and a grain filler, such as barley. It’s available dried, or can be browned in butter or bacon fat before eating. And bacon makes everything better.
Netherlands Paardenrookvlees: Culinarily-speaking, the Dutch usually cop grief for their proclivity for pickled herring and eating mayonnaise on their french fries. That’s because most Americans don’t know this smoked horse meat is a popular sandwich filling. Trust me: Seabiscuit tastes pretty good.
Greece Kokoretsi: Lamb or goat intestines wrapped around seasoned offal (lungs, hearts, sweetbreads, kidneys), threaded onto a skewer, and cooked on a spit. You know what’s good with grilled meat? Meat.
So, there’s this huge, ice-covered country at the top of the world–a place that we all fly over and love to overlook. Though perhaps you are more conscientious–perhaps you count yourself among the rare breed of traveler that is drawn to remote, disregarded landmasses where the mighty musk oxen roam. If that is the case–well then, Greenland is definitely the place for you.
I can say that with a straight face because I am blogging from Greenland right here, right now, even as the glowing green northern lights swirl outside my nighttime window. I’ll be up here all week, investigating the country that all the maps tend to chop in half, or else distort wildly. To kickstart our Gadling coverage, I’m sending you this cheerful message of hope LIVE (nearly) from Greenland and–get ready for this: in Greenlandic! That’s right. Good travelers know that learning a few words in the local tongue is always the best way to blend in with the locals, as is wearing national dress. For example, this reindeer-skin parka is de rigueur in much of Greenland (although quite inappropriate for the warmer month of September).
The local Inuit populace call their country Kalaallit Nunaat, which simply means “Land of the People”. Now right away, I can tell you this is false advertising because honestly, there are not that many people in Greenland at all. This wee video clip was filmed in a village boasting exactly 50 inhabitants, all of which you can hear milling about in the background. In point of fact, Greenland is mostly empty, which is why it’s so awesome.
*The author traveled to Greenland as a guest of Branding Greenland. This does not mean he is confederate to a sinister public relations plot. He is merely blogging from and about Greenland. Even so, the opinions expressed do not reflect those of the Greenlandic government, Gadling, or AOL.
Ever wonder what people like to do in Norway? According to the graphic above, posted on Reddit, favorite Norwegian activities include “dreaming about fjords,” “eating lutefisk” and “skiing to work.” Having never had a chance to visit this Scandinavian country of snow, socialized medicine and reindeer, I can only laugh at whoever came up with this chart. And I’m beginning to wonder, why do I have a sudden urge to visit? Considering one of the activities listed on the graphic is “submitting things on Reddit on behalf of the Norwegian Tourist Board,” I’m guessing some clever viral marketing is probably at work…
Forget dog-sledding. For the ultimate winter endurance test, try reindeer sledding in Eastern Russia with Russia Discovery’s 9-night excursion into the “Pole of Cold” in Yakutia.
The tour is not for the faint of heart or those who want to be pampered. In fact, Urban Daddy calls it “the most physically demanding holiday celebration outside the Polar Bear Club”. Listed as a requirement for the tour is physical fitness and “physical and psychological resistance to the cold.” How cold? Pretty darn cold. The average temperature in January is -40C.
if you think you can brave the freezing temps, you’ll start your tour with a day in Yakutsk where you can visit the Institute of Permafrost before setting out on a 19 hour drive to Yuchugey, a settlement of reindeer herders. By day three, you’ll be practicing your hand at reindeer sledding; on day four you’ll spend 5-6 hours crossing the frozen terrain by sled and then sleeping outdoors in a 4X4 tent. Another day of sledding (in total, the sledding covers 35 miles over two days) is followed by a 20 hour drive back to Yakutsk. On day eight you can visit a husky farm and compare dog-sledding to reindeer sledding before returning to Moscow.
The tour isn’t cheap at €3560 per person, but included in the cost are all meals and accommodations, rental of all the furry outer wear required to keep you from dying of hypothermia, and the chance to feel like Santa as you glide over a snowy landscape pulled by a team of real live reindeer.