Alternative to turkey? Try reindeer

December 21, 2005 in Food Companies, Manufacturing and Trends, Holiday Eating

Alternative to turkey? Try reindeer

It has been a traditional food among the people in Northern Europe's Lapland, but few North Americans are likely to have tried reindeer soup, reindeer calf kebab or roast reindeer. Your chance to taste reindeer may be coming soon. Apparently, the reindeer meat export market is growing, and part of its popularity is due to its presence in Swedish furniture giant Ikea's stores across Europe. In France, smoked reindeer meat is flying (pardon the pun) out of Ikea's instore Swedish Food Markets.

You may be able to find reindeer roast in restaurants from Italy to Korea. But are Canadians willing to set aside the nostalgia and magic of flying Reindeer on Christmas Eve and tuck into one of Santa's faithful beasts?

The converted say their is a significant taste factor in their enjoyment of the rosy flesh of reindeer. More than 70 per cent of reindeer slaughtered for meat are calves that have grazed on summer pastures and not endured a harsh winter during which the animals use up fat reserves. This means the meat is tender and tasty, perhaps explaining why veal-eating French and Germans are fans.

Apparently it is 'very different' to beef and other meats, but difficult to explain when a part of your traditional cuisine, with a lot of the taste coming from slow cooking over an open fire, and the salting and drying of the meat. And reindeer meat beats farmed animals for nutrition on several points. It has quite a high content of vitamin E: 3-4 mcg per gram of meat, which is three times the amount in pork. It is also quite lean, with only 1-2% fat.

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