Eskimo ice cream

by on March 7, 2009 at 7:01 am in Food and Drink | Permalink

The Inuit people of Alaska have a distinct version of ice cream. It's not creamy
ice cream as we know it, but a concoction made from
reindeer fat or tallow, seal oil, freshly fallen snow or water, fresh berries, and sometimes ground fish. Air is
whipped in by hand so that it slowly cools into foam.
They call this Arctic treat akutaq, aqutuk, ackutuk, or
Eskimo ice cream. Akutaq is a Yupik word that means mix
them together.

Here is the link.  Nowadays Crisco Oil often substitutes for animal fat.

Here is a picture of Eskimo ice cream.

The original tip is from 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die, an excellent book for reading or browsing.

1 Daniel March 7, 2009 at 8:30 am

It doesn’t look like ice cream!

2 Mitch March 7, 2009 at 11:14 am

Heh, an excellent book for reading or browsing, but not, apparently, for tasting.

3 RickC March 7, 2009 at 11:42 am

Actually lived in Bethel, Alaska a few years ago. It’s the hub for all the Yupik villages of western Alaska. My wife and I both tried some Akutaq during a festival. Ever try to conceal your gag reflex while face-to-face with people you don’t want to insult? Not fun. Not tasty. I guess you had to grow up with it to enjoy that taste combination.

4 anon/portly March 7, 2009 at 1:36 pm

It appears from this that the Inuit were too far north to make (or trade for) oolichan grease (hence the fat from seals or reindeer).

http://www.cbc.ca/thelens/bigfatdiet/grease.html

I think some form or combination of berries n’ oil was pretty much a staple food along the NW coast. When one reads the section on shrubs in Pojar and MacKinnon’s _Plants of the PNW Coast_ (and why not?) you find a new berry on about every other page. The usual suspects – rubus, ribes, vaccinium – but also salal, saskatoon, soap, crow, highbush cranberry (viburnum), oso, etc. The entry on soapberry (aka “Canadian Buffalo-berry”) mentions a BC variant on “Indian ice-cream” in which the berries were “sweetened with salal berries, camas bulbs or hemlock cambium.” I guess they weren’t too tasty but foamed up nicely.

TC’s “best places in North America for hemlock cambium” is perhaps a ways off, but you never know.

5 John Thacker March 7, 2009 at 6:49 pm

They call this Arctic treat akutaq, aqutuk, ackutuk, or Eskimo ice cream. Akutaq is a Yupik word that means mix them together.

If they’re Yupik, then they’re not Inuit. They’re Eskimo people, but not Inuit. The Inuit are a different group of people. The Yupik like being called Yupik, don’t mind Eskimo, but dislike being called Inuit.

Calling all the Eskimo language speaking peoples “Inuit” is like arguing that “Oriental” is offensive, so we’re going to call all East Asians “Chinese.”

6 Larry, San Francisco March 7, 2009 at 9:43 pm

I often take my kids to a Chinese desert cafe that has dessert specialties that use frog fat. I have not had the courage to try it yet.

7 Elizabeth March 8, 2009 at 6:24 am

I grew up in a coastal village at the top of Alaska, and grew up eating Akutuq as we pronounce it. The way we made it was with tuttu (caribou) fat, seal oil, water, and tuttu meat. I love it, and I would say it’s an acquired taste. It’s something you’d have to of grown up eating. But I absolutely love it!

8 Places to visit in North Carolina & Virginia March 9, 2009 at 8:53 am

There must be a joke in there somehow with Eskimo Pie.

9 RickC March 9, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Hi,

Should have said, didn’t try all the varieties, just the one with berries and seal oil. The seal oil is an acquired taste. I know. I’m a wimp. I had the same experience with an Arab dish I tried while in the Middle East. I gag over certain dishes here in the good ole’ U.S. of A. too.

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