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20 Interesting Eskimo Ice Cream Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
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Eskimo Ice Cream

And who doesn’t like ice creams? Now imagine a type of ice cream that was created in the frozen lands that the Eskimos call home. So, they probably don’t really need refrigerators, do they? Well honestly, the first time we heard about Eskimo Ice Cream, we kind of freaked out. We asked, ‘why the hell will they need ice creams in the first place when they are already living in sub-freezing temperatures?’ Seriously, the concept of Eskimos making ice creams for desserts was a completely out of the world idea that we were having hard time to grasp. This is where we decided to do some digging and we found some interesting facts we are going to share with you. So, let us waste time no further and start with out 20 interesting Eskimo Ice Cream facts. We promise, you will be surprised.

Interesting Eskimo Ice Cream Facts: 1-10

1. The formal name for what we call Eskimo Ice Cream is Akutaq. The word is pronounced as a-goo-duk.

2. The word is a Yupik word, which literally translates into ‘mix ’em together’. So basically, Akutaq is not really an ice cream as such.

3. The name Eskimo Ice Cream is the creation of the white men. Probably, they came up with the name because they saw berries on the dish that somewhat looked like an ice cream.

4. So, Akutaq is not an ice cream at all! It is in fact a dish that was prepared for surviving extreme cold. It was never a dessert. It was rather rather a body warmer.

5. In case you are looking for milk or creamy ingredients in Akutaq, you will be plain disappointed. It is in fact a mixture of meat and fat. Of course there are berry-toppings to make it look a bit pleasant.

6. Akutaq or Eskimo ice cream is a traditional dish that was prepared long time ago by the native Yupik people. They ate the dish before they went out on long hunting expeditions exposing themselves to freezing temperatures. They even carried the Akutaq along with them to fill their bellies when out in the cold.

7. The traditional Akutaq was prepared without any sugar but could contain a lot of things like seal oil, fish, caribou meat, caribou fat, moose fat, moose meat etc. along with several types of berries.

8. A variety of berries were and are used for Eskimo Ice Cream. Some of the most common berries include blueberries, cloudberries, crowberries, cranberries etc. Roots and tundra grass were also used for preparation of the Akutaq.

9. Akutaq preparation follows no specific recipe. In fact, every Eskimo family makes it slightly differently. The reason is simple. There is no written recipe found.

10. The preparation method and recipe used by a single family is usually passed on from generation to generation.

Interesting Eskimo Ice Cream Facts: 11-20

11. Teaching the preparation method is all about allowing the kids to carefully watch the Akutaq preparation process every time it is made. This way, the young keep learning by watching.

12. Some families follow a nice tradition. Once the Akutaq is prepared and ready to be eaten, someone elder (usually the one who prepares it) draws a cross on the mixture using a finger.

13. Once the cross is made, he or she will simply pick up one berry of each kind and take a pinch of the fatty-meaty-oily mixture and toss them into fire.

14. Once tossed, he or she will speak out the words: “Tamarpeci nerculi”. This again is a Yupik phrase which simply translates into “All of you eat”.

15. Some families follow this tradition and some may not. It is all up to them. May be it is more like praying before eating.

16. As of date, sugar is added for sweetening the dish but that entirely depends on whether you want a sweet dish or not.

17. Traditionally the Eskimo Ice Cream has been prepared in a wooden bowl known as Tumnaq. You may very well use a metal pan or something if a wooden bowl is not available.

18. Preparation of Akutaq involves boiling and then simmering (for 20 minutes at low flame) the meat and/or fish, removing all bones (meticulously in case of fish – mostly salmons are used) and then mince and mix the whole thing with Crisco properly (you really don’t want to deal with unprocessed fat and hence, Crisco is the best choice you will have).

19. After the mixture is ready, pour in about a cup of vegetable oil (may be two cups depending on the total content). In case you want and if you can get your hands on, you may use seal oil. Now whip the whole thing properly for as long as it take to make it look fluffy. Finally add sugar as per your taste and stir well to dissolve the sugar.

20. Finally, wash the berries properly and put them in Akutaq. Make sure that there are lots of berries but too many berries are not allowed either. Now refrigerate and serve the Eskimo Ice Cream cold.

Word of caution: If you live in warm places or if you have high cholesterol issues or any heart issues, don’t bother to eat it regularly. You might just end up inviting unwanted health issues.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

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