Christmas is Coming: How Do You Like to Eat Rudolf?

December 8, 2014 • Philip BurgessBlog, ICR/WRH, Reindeer

Reindeer MeatWe the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) and the Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH) are  interested in reindeer pretty much all of the time. We (try to) understand that this is not so for most people. However, as we approach Christmas, interest in reindeer (not so much in herders!) peaks across much of the world. It is also when we receive more visitors to our website than any other time of the year.

This year, we thought we ask a very important to those of us who work, live with and love reindeer: How do you like to eat them? While this might seem a silly, or to some, a provocative question, to herding peoples, it is an  important one. Reindeer are the cornerstone of the identity of many indigenous peoples in the North, but perhaps above all, they are an extremely healthy and available source of protein.

I canvassed our colleagues here at ICR and WRH about their favourite way to eat reindeer. See some feedback below. Feel free to add your voice, favourite or recipe to the conversation here on our Facebook or Twitter channels or in the comments section.

One of my favourite answers was from Rávdná Biret Márjá Eira (Sámi, Kautokeino, Norway),

This is a very difficult question Philip! Its too hard to choose, but let’s see: In the fall it is so good with smoked reindeer meat that I fry directly on the fire…a little later it is great with blood sausages and boiled čielgi (back)! and also in the winter….. and then in spring it soooo tasty with coffee and dried reindeer meat during the migration while the herd is resting a little..

Mikhail Pogodaev (Even from Sakha), Executive Chair of WRH agreed,

I agree with Rávdná, it is very difficult to say what is a best in reindeer (meat). I also like many different things. Maybe the best dish for me apart from reindeer meat is CHALYKI – boiled reindeer stomach cooked by my mother! I also like reindeer head. And fresh meat!!! Raw liver and kidneys, some brains, eyes and UMAN (bone marrow)  mmmm!

Other colleagues also had great input. Alena Gerasimova (Evenki from Sakha), said her favourites were 1) boiled meat and 2) fried fresh meat and kidneys with onions. Ellen Inga Turi (Sámi from Kautokeino, Norway) was clear: head-soup anyday! (eyes and “ollon” (jaw bones). Helena Omma, (Sámi from Porjus, Sweden) – her favourite is fried liver with butter and onions. Personally, perhaps my most memorable meal was drinking Maria Pogodaeva’s soup after I had passed out while filming in Topolinoe! I can still remember the flavour vividly. How about you – what’s your favourite?

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