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Raestur fiskur: air-dried fermented fish the Faroese way
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
2015 (English)In: Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, ISSN 1746-4269, E-ISSN 1746-4269, Vol. 11, 76Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Fish has played an important role in the diet of the population of the mid-Atlantic Faroe Islands. Dried and fermented fish in particular have been an essential storable protein source in an economy where weather conditions and seasonal fluctuations affect the availability of food. For generations the islanders have prepared raestur fiskur, a home-made air-dried and fermented fish dish made of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua L.) or saithe (Pollachius virens (L.)). Fermenting the fish is an efficient and valuable cultural strategy for preserving fish. Methods: This ethnobiological study investigates the historical and present use of fermented fish in Faroese cuisine and examines its preservation as an everyday food that Faroese men pride themselves on making in high quality. This study is based on field notes collected through interviews and observations on the Faroe Islands since the mid-1990s. Results: Processed fish could be stored for a long period of time; this was important in an economy where weather conditions and seasonal fluctuations affect food availability dramatically. For this reason, home-made air-dried fish has been central to the food security of the Faroese people. Usually consumed with tallow from sheep, the dish was once appreciated customarily on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, but has been largely replaced by Danish dishes. However, it has survived as everyday food until today. Conclusion: The presence of small-scale fishing, changing economic conditions, socially acquired taste-preferences, and the importance of old-fashioned dishes as key symbols of cultural identity, all contribute to the survival of raestur fiskur in Faroese food culture. Today, the dish is not only an essential food source, but its consumption is also an important act of identification and solidarity with the national identity of the islanders.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 11, 76
Keyword [en]
Ethnozoology, Fermentation, Local fish knowledge, Ethnoichtyology, Traditional cuisine, Ethnogastronomy
National Category
Ethnology Zoology Pharmacology and Toxicology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-268405DOI: 10.1186/s13002-015-0064-9ISI: 000364120900001PubMedID: 26537479OAI: diva2:878484
Available from: 2015-12-09 Created: 2015-12-04 Last updated: 2015-12-09Bibliographically approved

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