In case it was not obvious, there is a massive ice sheet covering 80% of Greenland’s land mass, and the coastline that is exposed is primarily hard granite rock. It is only in the very southernmost latitudes that there is soil hospitable enough to grow crops like potatoes, lettuce and strawberries.
Needless to say, local produce from ‘the garden of Greenland’ is a bit rare, and those items that do make it to store shelves sell like hot cakes!
Tell your guests that nearly all what they will see in the shops is imported goods that are either shipped or flown up from Iceland, Denmark, Spain, and other countries. The meats and fish, on the other hand, like reindeer, musk ox, shrimp and halibut, to name a few, are wild-caught and local. (See #3).
(...)local produce from ‘the garden of Greenland’ is a bit rare, and those items that do make it to store shelves sell like hot cakes!
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The local ingredients are decidedly Greenlandic while the preparation is usually some fusion of Greenlandic-Nordic or even Greenlandic-Thai. Lumpfish roe canapes and spicy seafood soup are a classic appetizers while reindeer and musk ox meat are typical substitutes for beef on a burger or steak menu.
Tell you guests that if they see a Greenlandic Tapas Plate or something similar on the menu, it is highly likely to feature something ‘exotic’ like dried or smoked Minke whale meat, perhaps seal meat, and potentially even mattak, which is a bite of skin and blubber from Narwhal or Beluga whale.
While pockets of the local population have jumped on the bandwagon of eating Paleo or going vegan for personal interest, it is still not something we are used to catering to widely. In Nuuk, there is a large selection of gluten-free and lactose-free products in the grocery stores, but in smaller towns and certainly in the settlements, patience and a bit of creativity will be your guests’ best friends.
Tell your guests that as much advance warning about their individual food requests as possible is greatly appreciated, whether that goes to the hotel restaurant chef or to the boat tour operator, who might otherwise try to give a chocolate snack to a lactose-intolerant passenger.
Most travellers have no clue how much logistical planning goes into putting fresh apples and cucumbers on the shelves of a remote destination the size of all of western Europe, but take our word for it – it is a big job.
Tell your guests they can expect to pay more for food in Greenland than they are probably used to at home. A pint of blueberries at the store, for example, goes for around 7 EUR, or if they grab lunch at a cafe, the meal plus a cold beverage and a coffee afterward will run them around 28 EUR each. And if they should have a good steak and red wine at a nice restaurant, they should expect to pay upwards from 75 EUR per person.