Whale Meat Again
On my last day, I went for a walk around the town. It was a still day with a fresh fall of snow. An old chap was fishing with a long-line through a hole in the ice. He had travelled there by a three-dog sled and already had quite a pile of fish lying in the snow. Zipped up in his North Face ski-wear, he gave me a wide smile and a thumbs-up then the tugging line demanded his attention. I watched as he skilfully landed a beautiful fish. A haddock. A gleaming slab of twitching muscle, fading from silver to grey as it gave up the fight. I motioned to him that I would like to buy it and we made our exchange – a Krone or two for a freshly caught fish seemed like a good deal to me.
At the hotel, I presented the fish, which was at least two-feet-long, to the chef and asked him to cook it for me. I ordered a beer and sat looking out over the harbour where the Northern Lights had turned the snow to green and violet mother-of-pearl. I knew I would always remember that moment: the magical light, the prospect of going home the next day. I sipped my beer and looked forward to my fish. The lights were putting on a good show, brushing the mountainous skyline with feathery plumes of light so it was hard not to think that it was being orchestrated by someone or something. I ordered another beer. The fish was taking a long time. I guessed that the chef was cooking something special, something really tasty. Maybe in a nice sauce. The lights did more stuff and my stomach rumbled. I thought about ordering another beer but just then the waitress arrived with my meal. At last. I picked up my knife and fork with anticipation and found myself staring down at a plate which held not the elegantly-sauced and seasoned very large fillet of my imagination but two small brown fishcakes partly obscured by a mound of mashed potato and frozen peas. I didn’t have the heart, or enough Greenlandic to enquire what had happened to the rest of it.