In Norway, children are nonetheless making good cash chopping cod tongues

(CNN) — Just above the Arctic Circle in northern Norway within the small fishing village of Henningsvær — the place the northern lights can typically be seen dancing in curtains throughout the sky on clear nights — persons are socially distancing.

Normally busy with vacationers at the moment of 12 months when the times are rising longer within the north, the backcountry snowboarding is at its greatest and the famed cod fishery within the Lofoten Islands reaches its apex, Henningsvær (inhabitants roughly 500) is sort of empty of holiday makers.

One of the most well-liked and picturesque vacationer cities in a dramatically landscaped archipelago that has exploded as an Instagram darling lately, Henningsvær’s lodges have shuttered.

Just two retailers — a small grocery retailer and a comfort retailer — stay open to serve the locals and fishermen.

The lone faculty on the island, with some 50 college students, has gone digital, as is the case throughout Norway nowadays — a situation now acquainted in locations battening down the hatches throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

But for the native youngsters rising up on this harsh but extremely picturesque a part of the planet the place snowy mountains drop near-vertically into the fjords, a timeless ritual continues to play out because it has for hundreds of years. That’s the harvesting of a most native and seasonal delicacy — cod tongues.

Amalie Hansen, right, and Anna Bless cut cod tongues to earn money in Henningsvær, Norway.

Amalie Hansen, proper, and Anna Bless lower cod tongues to earn cash in Henningsvær, Norway.

Astrid Daerr

It’s a convention that sees the children getting exterior and dealing — lengthy fishing knives clutched of their palms — chopping fish tongues in return for what can quantity to hundreds of {dollars} for just a few weeks of icy chilly, character-building work.

“Like doctors, nurses, transport and other industries, the fishing industry is categorized as critical in Norway and has remained open (during the pandemic),” says Ragnhild Krogh Magnussen, a retail employee who lives in Henningsvær and has a ship and a small quota of cod she will be able to catch every winter to promote to the native fish factories.

“The cod fishing industry is still open, so the kids are still out working, too, cutting the tongues,” she says, including {that a} new virus-inspired rule maintains they have to maintain no less than a meter of distance (3.Three ft) between one another whereas working.

Cod tongue custom

Cod heads, their tongues already cut out by the children, hang to dry on wooden racks in Henningsvær.

Cod heads, their tongues already lower out by the youngsters, cling to dry on wood racks in Henningsvær.

Astrid Daerr

Every winter, a migratory species of cod referred to as skrei arrives in Lofoten’s fjords after an extended journey south from the Barents Sea.

The fish arrive round February annually within the waters of the Vestfjord, simply off Lofoten, to spawn.

Prized all over the world for his or her scrumptious chicken, they’re salted or held on wood racks all through Lofoten to dry for export as fine quality bacalao and stockfish.

In a land the place the odor of drying cod is usually stated to be the odor of cash (“In Cod We Trust,” is one other saying in Lofoten), fishing boats additionally arrive in mass right here from factors north and south alongside Norway’s huge shoreline for a few of Europe’s most profitable fishing grounds.

Adults man the boats and course of the various tons of cod at Henningsvær’s 4 fish factories, the place Polish manufacturing facility staff abound.

But a neighborhood custom that dates again extra generations than anybody can keep in mind dictates that it is native youngsters — some begin as younger as 6 years outdated — who’re the one ones allowed to chop and earn cash from the cod tongues, that are thought-about a seasonal delicacy and prized at house tables and in eating places round Norway.

Krogh Magnussen’s sons — Mogens Hovde, 14, and Gustav Hovde, 11 — are amongst a handful of native children nonetheless chopping tongues this 12 months at Henningsvær’s lone fish manufacturing facility that is still open for the exercise. It’s the one manufacturing facility with a delegated out of doors space the place the children can do their work.

After ending their on-line lessons for the day at 2:30 p.m., Mogens and Gustav do their greatest to keep away from the temptation to play video video games and as a substitute don their wool and waterproof layers and fishing boots to walk the few blocks from their house to the fish manufacturing facility fronting the city’s tidy marina.

Tongue-cutting paydays

Skrei, a migratory Arctic cod, hangs to dry on wooden racks in Henningsvær.

Skrei, a migratory Arctic cod, hangs to dry on wood racks in Henningsvær.

Astrid Daerr

Armed with a 10-inch-long Victorinox knife, a sharpener, a metallic choose and a bucket and plastic baggage, the boys arrange their stations in entrance of Dumpster-size plastic bins of just-processed cod heads donated by the manufacturing facility and marinating in a pungent broth of blood and seawater.

Often joined by just a few different women and boys, they set to work for what could be an hour or as many as 5 – 6 hours, relying on the provision, the climate and, in fact, their private motivation.

“This is my ninth year doing it, I started when I was just 6 years old,” says Mogens, “So I”m beginning to get somewhat sick of it now. But the cash retains me going.”

“I don’t know what the hardest thing about cutting tongues is,” says Gustav, “but the thing I like most is that I earn money.”

And even by Norwegian requirements, the cash is excellent.

On a day when many boats have been out fishing within the fjord and the bins of fish heads maintain arriving by fork raise from contained in the manufacturing facility, the older brother cuts between 60 and 85 kilograms of tongues, he says.

With his mom’s or father’s assist, he then baggage them at house and sells them on to prospects and by way of a group Facebook web page for between 60 to 65 Norwegian Kroner a kilo — earnings that may add as much as as a lot as US $460 for a half day’s work.

Fortnite cash, LED lights for his room and video gaming chairs are just a few of the issues Mogens has bought together with his earnings in years previous. This 12 months, he says, he’ll start saving for a automobile.

Unwritten rule

Girls lower in no less than the identical numbers as boys most years (typically extra — these aforementioned video video games are a giant distraction).

Amalie Hansen, 16, and her sister Ella, 11 — along with their 8-year-old twin siblings who’re embarking on their first tongue-cutting season this 12 months — additionally work exterior the manufacturing facility chopping tongues.

“There’s a lot of focus on the tongue-cutting here, it’s a kind of happening,” says Amalie, including that this will probably be her final 12 months chopping — the unwritten guidelines in these components additionally say that by age 17, it is time to go away the youthful children to hold the torch and reap the advantages.

Last 12 months, says Hansen, she earned almost $3,000 and acquired a bunad — Norway’s elaborate nationwide costume, worn on the nation’s nationwide day in May and different essential occasions.

“There are a lot of people who are really sick of (cutting tongues) and who don’t want to do it because of the cold and the smell. But it feels very fresh standing outside and working,” she says.

“You get in the shower and go to bed at the end of the day knowing you earned a lot of money, quick and easy.”

That simple half, nevertheless, is debatable.

The method and the culinary reward

The traditional cod tongue preparation is dipped in flour, lightly fried.

The conventional cod tongue preparation is dipped in flour, calmly fried.

Astrid Daerr

The tongue-cutting method normally entails some model of utilizing one hand to lock your thumb and one other finger into the attention sockets of a fish head that may be as massive as a dinner plate — adopted by smashing the throat-side onto a metallic choose positioned on the rim of the bin filled with heads.

This serves to push the fish’s mouth open, exposing its tongue, which the children then slice with a single, deft movement that removes it in addition to a part of the chin and jowls, nonetheless connected.

The gelatinous mass is the dimensions of your palm and the feel of uncooked hen.

Collectively known as the fish’s tongue (torsketunger on native menus), the standard preparation is dipped in flour, calmly fried and served up with boiled potatoes and carrots and a tartar-like sauce for dipping.

And whereas Amalie and her sister admit to by no means having tried the specialty, Mogens and his household are followers and eat it commonly throughout the winter.

“It’s one of the best things I know,” he says.

A bounty of life classes

Everyone can agree that this winter has been significantly harsh with dangerous climate, however tongue-cutting and cod fishing, they are saying, has been higher than good.

“There’s always demand, we can cut as much as we want and it will always get sold,” says Amalie. “Even if not in the middle of this season, we can sell what’s frozen a month later.”

“The kids are out there in all kinds of weather — as long as the boats are fishing they usually go,” says Krogh Magnussen, who values the custom as a part of the city’s cultural heritage in addition to for the various classes — past incomes their very own cash — that it teaches her boys.

They study and educate one another about sharing and self-discipline and cleansing up after themselves.

“(Adults) are not allowed to stand at the fish factory and help the kids, except to teach them how to cut in the very beginning. They’ll be chased away from the quai,” she says.

The custom additionally offers its personal set of experiences in a spot that is not filled with simple diversions.

“When you grow up in this kind of place and island, it’s different than other places in Norway. We don’t have slalom courses and ski hills to keep our kids busy and outside,” says Krogh Magnussen. “But they’re able to drive boats and have opportunities that are not so common in the rest of Norway.”

And the tongue-cutting is often a giant occasion for vacationers, too. “Usually, everyone is taking photos and filming them,” says Krogh Magnussen.

“I think it’s kind of fun when the tourists come down and talk to us,” says Mogens, “But there’s nobody here now, it’s totally quiet.”

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *