Restaurants in Reykjavik are keen to tell tourists they serve Icelandic cuisine. This includes lobster and lamb, but also minke (sometimes translated as ‘mink’) whale and puffin dishes.
Whale steaks seemed the most popular, though an upmarket seafood place also listed ‘minke whale sashimi’ among their appetisers.
After some discussion at our table it was agreed that in the interests of scientific research we would eat a whale. Not a whole one – just a little bit.
One of our number ordered it. This is what it looked like.
I don’t know whether Iceland’s whales and puffins are endangered species. I can’t explain why I cheerfully eat sheep and chickens but am inclined to gag at the thought of eating whales and puffins.
If they could express an opinion, the sheep and the chickens of Iceland would probably be all for the eating of whales and puffins.
Icelanders, along with Norwegians and Japanese, claim that irrespective of ecological considerations they should be allowed to continue whaling because it’s a ‘tradition’ in their culture.
All cultures have traditions – slavery, foot-binding and flushing new kids’ heads down toilets for example.
Maybe reducing whale numbers makes Iceland a better place for fish and seals. Maybe losing a few puffins means gaining a few gannets. These are separate questions.
We shared the whale. I can now report that the meat is dark and very tough. The chicken tagliatelle was far better and so was the lamb.
Now I know that nobody needs to eat whales. I won’t be doing it again. The taste is nothing special and I’d rather see them alive.