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“Heimablídni – dine in the homes of the Faroese” home hospitality concept

  • Published on November 13, 2017
Heimablídni is a concept where local, often traditional, Faroese food is served in a home. Home restaurants offer the opportunity to get to know locally produced food, different from the food usually served in restaurants. One can learn interesting stories related to that particular part of the country or village. It is one of the reasons why the distinctive Faroese cuisine, including traditional preparation techniques such as fermentation, is having a renaissance and winning a broader audience.
Heimablídni, or home hospitality, aims to make it possible for the local families and farms everywhere on the Faroe Islands to gain some additional income from providing hospitality services to visitors to the Faeroes. The aim is to both offer the possibility to dine in remote areas, where few or no restaurant services exist, and to provide an alternative to restaurants in other areas, for instance near the capital. Another objective of the home hospitality concept is to introduce visitors as well as Faroese to the distinct traditional Faroese cuisine, based on mainly locally sourced produce and prepared using traditional methods, such as “ræst” (fermentation). The aim is also to familiarize the diners with Faroese culture and traditions. This will, at the same time, help to preserve culinary traditions, by transferring knowledge to both visitors and Faroese. Additionally, serving food in a home connects the diners from near and far with their hosts and locals. Integration with local people and traditions leads to an enhanced travel experience. Faroese cuisine has some distinct elements. Living in an isolated North Atlantic archipelago, the Faroese had to rely on eating what the local environment provided. Resources were used efficiently: every bit of fish caught, every part of animals slaughtered, and every bird caught were used. The Faroese learned to store and preserve as much as possible for tougher times and through the winter months. These preservation methods are still used today, and produce food that has distinct and unique flavors, even without added spices, drawing on the climate and elements from which it is produced and how it has been preserved and stored. One of the distinctive flavors is a result of what the Faroese call “ræst” or fermentation. This is the process of drying meat and fish outdoors, allowing an aging process to occur. The resulting flavor that is acquired depends on the climate and weather; warmer temperatures will spoil it, too cool a temperature will prevent fermentation and too much wind will result in a lack of flavor. The distinctive taste created by the unique storage and preparation processes together with the philosophy of using what nature provides, creates some unique gastronomic elements which are a part of old Nordic food culture. Heimablídni serves as an inspiration for modern restaurant food. Heimablídni is available on most of the islands in the Faeroes. In practice, this means that families open their homes to serve lunch, afternoon tea or dinner to visitors. The arrangements for Heimablídni visits are usually made directly with the family that provides the food. In some cases, the local tourist office can help to arrange the experience. Today, there are between five and ten families providing home hospitality food in the Faeroe Islands on a more or less regular basis, some additional families may occasionally open their doors to visitors to provide these services. The dinner or lunch offered is usually a traditional Faroese cuisine meal, but there are no specific requirements for what can be served. Instead, the host family decides what they serve and when. However, the food is always prepared in the house where it is served. The food may be based on traditional family recipes, either served in the traditional way, or with a modern twist. Whilst the menus vary, the food is often based on ingredients that are locally sourced – or even grown on the farm where it is served. The food regulations that apply to mainstream restaurants do not apply to these “home restaurants”, and a family may simply establish a Heimablídni in a village or on a tiny island in response to demand. The special guidance for Heimablídni issued in 2012 by the Faroese Food and Veterinary Agency specifies that food served under the Heimablídni concept is not part of the normal regulations of the Food and Veterinary Agency, and states that the food shall be prepared in the home of the host and served in that same home. The purpose is to let the visitor know that the food is prepared in a private kitchen. Success Factors As representatives for Heimablídni home hospitality, Anna and Óli Rubeksen from Velbastaður have received the Nordic Council of Ministers Embla award for best food tourism destination for the service in 2017. They have been pioneers of the concept and central for its development. The families providing these services, such as Óli and Anna Rubeksen, also feel that there is a greater purpose than only providing meals to visitors. Serving dinners in your own home helps to preserve a family heritage that otherwise could easily be lost. It also serves to bring different people together around a meal at the same table, thus bringing people together also in a greater sense. Novelty Developing the home hospitality concept formally started in 2010, when the need was identified to provide tourism services in remote areas, where no restaurant services exist. The concept was also applied to other areas where demand and an interest to provide these services existed. The idea was to serve traditional Faroese food to visitors, often based on old family recipes and using in some cases old preparation methods, which had mainly been reserved for local’s and families own consumption. Whilst local families wanted to open their homes to visitors in order to provide a different type of service, this was not initially possible because of food, veterinary and other regulations that apply to restaurants, the legislation first had to be changed. The route taken was to regulate home dining in a manner similar to the Faroese regulation of direct sales of farm produce and e.g. home slaughtered meat. Sustainability Impacts The traditional methods for preparing food in the Faroes have not been part of mainstream restaurant food, and both the tradition and the methods have been slowly disappearing. Heimablídni is playing a key part in preserving local food culture and presenting it for a broader audience, at the same time enabling locals to make a supplementary income. The concept helps to preserve traditional family recipes and methods of preparation whilst at the same time contributing to new food adaptations that further develop local and Nordic food culture. This serves to instill pride in the local cuisine, now seen as an integral part of Nordic cuisine. Using local produce also can lower CO2 emissions as transport needs are minimized. There seems to be good potential for providing and developing these types of services. Even visitors that usually do not want to spend a lot of money on other types services, such as hotels, often value highly unique food experiences and are willing to pay more for better quality. Gastronomy is increasingly an integral part of the tourist experience. Challenges, lessons learned and potential for development When the need for home hospitality services was first identified in 2010, there were many rules and regulations that made this type of activity impossible. Representatives from the Ministry of Trade & Industry, The Farmers Association, the Tourism Association, the Outer Islands Association, the Food and Veterinary Agency, the local tourist offices and the Tourist Board, together with local farmers had to work together to find a solution that would allow homes, also outside urban areas and the remoter areas, to become part of the increasing tourism industry. Working together they found solutions that meet the needs of farmers and local families and made providing home hospitality services possible. Contact person(s) for more information: Visit Faroe Islands Official Tourist Board of the Faroe Islands Phone 298 666 555

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