Tariungmiutaq Eyeballs

P1120088I found this video on my camera the other day, which reminded me of the funniest moment of our kayak trip to Baffin Island.  Martin, also known as my husband, also known as a man most keen to catch a fish, was excited about his first trip to the Arctic, and thus his first opportunity to catch Tariugmiutaq, which is the Inuit word for Arctic Char.  If you’ve never had a chance to eat Arctic Char, you haven’t fully lived yet.  This fresh water fish spends most of its time living in northern lakes and rivers, with occasional migrations to the sea.  It is considered one of the best choices for sustainable seafood, which is important to me, but mainly its my favorite fish because of its incomparably delicious taste, described as between trout and salmon.

Martin spent a good deal of time fishing on our trip, and one day caught this green beauty.

P1120291At this point, someone in our group, who shall remain nameless, aided by someone else, who shall also remain nameless, (because those of you who know me understand I would never encourage such behavior), convinced Peter and Martin that it was an ancient Inuit tradition to eat the eyeballs of the first fish caught by a hunter.  (Kurtis didn’t really believe this story, but a couple of Inuit guys had played the very same trick on him, so the possibility remains that it is in fact true…)  Peter, I suspect due to his good nature, was game to give it a try, and Martin, who is of course a Spaniard,  and thus used to eating all sorts of weird and wonderful animal parts, is decidedly not squeamish, so he didn’t need much convincing.  (Thankfully Arctic Char have only two eyeballs so I was not required to participate.  So sad about that.)

Close up of actual fish eyeball

Close up of actual fish eyeball

Here is a video of the big event, Peter and Martin practicing an ancient and enduring male rite of passage:  (Note: the Spaniard is not cheating, he just accidentally dropped his eyeball on the beach at the beginning.)

Unfortunately the video ends a bit too soon.  I was laughing too hard to continue.  Don’t be fooled by the mild expression on Peter’s face.  He felt horribly ill and spent a prolonged while retching, which you are probably quite thankful you didn’t see in any case.  Apparently it was unbearably squishy, except for the hard cartilaginous lens. Martin seemed to suffer no ill effects whatsoever.  And thus, great memories are born.

We ate the fish for dinner and he was magnificent.


About Tandi

I love my morning coffee, reading, the wilderness, paddling, poetry, my Spanish husband, and being a doctor. I also love writing my blog, and reading yours.
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7 Responses to Tariungmiutaq Eyeballs

  1. shoreacres says:

    Oh, my! Oh, dear! Oh…..

    I’ve been waiting for tomorrow, when I’ll have some time to really enjoy your series of posts, to savor them. But I do believe I’m going to be sure to begin in the beginning…..

    On the other hand, I have my own funny eyeball story to share with you, once I’ve gotten past this one. 😉

  2. wkaren4 says:

    Yuk, What a cruel trick to play. I know I wouldn’t have taken part in it. I could not find the video tho. Did you include it?

  3. wkaren4 says:

    Did Martin actually swallow it? And he wouldn’t eat Dad’s beans?

  4. Such a funny video! I wouldn’t have eaten it either. It’s strange how quickly the stomach turns with the addition of such an inoffensive object! Your husband obviously enjoyed himself watching his friend reintroduce it.

    The fish looks a lot like a sturgeon doesn’t it? We are fishermen too.

  5. shoreacres says:

    Oh, double my! I tend not to be terribly squeamish, but I just don’t think I want to find fish eyeballs at the tapas bar. Deep-fried baby squid, ok. This? Not so much. I’m really a bit surprised how even watching the video made my stomach a bit upside-downish. That said, it’s pretty darned funny, and the fish itself looks wonderful.

    When I was working at Ben Taub, the county trauma hospital in Houston, my boss and I found a huge wooden case up in the attic one day. Who knows why we were up there. Who even knows why a county hospital has an attic full of dusty mementos of past days.

    In any event, the wooden case was about 20′ long, and about ten feet tall — four feet of which was the legs that supported it. It held a multitude of little wooden drawers, about 1″ x 2″. Each one contained a beautiful blue, green, brown or hazel — glass eye! They weren’t used any more, and were literally gathering dust. They also were free for the taking, as were all the remnants in their section of the attic, so we took.

    For a couple of years, we delighted in freezing the glass eyes into ice cubes, plunking them into drinks at parties, and offering them to people with the salutation, “Here’s looking at you!”

    Maybe I could deal with those fish eyes, after all. A wonderful tale, it is!

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