Continuing the popular series, this Cultural Tidbits Monday we Travel through Icelandic food, sampling some dishes of this isolated, yet spectacular island of Iceland. Hope you enjoy the brief photo essay!
Icelandic food: Appetizers, meats and sides
I’ll start this Icelandic food photo essay with the dishes that were the most foreign to me. A plate of Icelandic products, cured in a traditional manner, is called Þorramatur (Wikipedia). Above, you see the not-so-foreign rye bread (rúgbrauð) and flatbread (flatbrauð) alongside some interesting-looking meats & sides. Hangikjöt is Icelandic smoked lamb, which is eaten cold or hot and also happens to be a popular side dish in a bigger meal (typically including green peas and potatoes bathed in béchamel sauce). Hrútspungar are lambs’…balls, soaked in sour whey. Lifrarpylsa translates to “white pudding” and it is in fact a meat dish made out of oatmeal, bread, suet, pork meat and fat, then shaped into a big sausage (only a slice pictured above). The black version of the pudding, named Blóðmör, is made out of lamb’s blood, oats, rye flour and stuffed inside pouches that…happen to be the lamb’s stomach. Oh and the Svið? The most popular of the group, it is a singed head of lamb. Ummm so! What’s next!?
Above is an appetizer plate that I ordered at a restaurant when I visited Iceland. It consisted of whale, puffin and smoked lamb. Whaling is frowned upon almost worldwide nowadays, but I was told by my hosts while Couchsurfing in Iceland that I had to try it. In fact, he offered me some smoked whale as an appetizer when I came back to his place that same night. I feel kind of guilty admitting it, but it was delicious. But then again, you feed me smoked anything and I’ll love it. Oh, and you must be wondering what a puffin is?
And yes, I did feel really guilty for eating one as well…
Icelandic food: Fast food and other entrees
Mink whale (hrefna hvalur) is typically served on a stick with peppers and veggies — aka “kebab” style. It may be found in restaurant menus or supermarkets (ready to be cooked). I could not bring myself to eat this much whale, however…
These are more hybrids between fast food and a main entree: Icelandic fish & chips. My travel buddy went down the traditional route, with fried fish sticks (left). I decided to have the haddock in delicious garlic pesto sauce (right). Our chips (real-cut red potatoes bathed in a type of aioli) came with curry (yellow) and rosemary/garlic (green) dipping sauces. All delish!
I’m surprised I even have a photo of this place. Most nights we would stumble upon Vikivaki after hard-partying with the locals or right after pre-gaming (read: Still somewhat intoxicated). Thus, no photos of the actual food. From what I remember, I would always order some delicious sausage and/or hot dog with tons of cheese and chili. Yum.
Bæjarins Beztu is infamous, known for being the best place to get a hot dog in all Reykjavík. I made sure I tried one of their creations before I left the country and rumors are right. From what I remember, they were even better than Vikivaki’s. Make sure you get a hot dog with chili on top! It is so good.
And that’s it for my introduction to Icelandic food! Next week we’ll be traveling through the culinary treasures of a different country. Got interesting country suggestions? Drop me a line!