It’s been almost two weeks since I set the washer on spin and cleaned up on that divine destination. Two weeks, and no one has asked about the food. You’re too kind, allowing me to wade into the waters of blogging at my own pace rather than simply pushing me to dive
in and satisfy your curiosity, your appetite. But you’ve got to be hungry. You’ve got to be wondering what Icelanders like to eat, what Jim and I found appetizing and what didn’t exactly
please our palates?
Not going down my gullet. My dentist can attest to my overzealous gag reflex when the flavors are benign mint, bubble gum or cherry. There’s no wishing I’d gone the noble route and managed the when-in-Rome-do-as-the-Romans-do thing. I was in Iceland anyway! It was not happening on this trip; not on this planet; not in my lifetime! Not with all that ammonia!
Those of you with a curiosity factor greater than your gag reflex will be thrilled to learn that the Greenland Shark from which this delicacy derives has no kidneys, hence the high uric acid and ammonia in the meat. Six weeks is the length of time it takes for the toxins to leech out of the shark and into the surrounding soil. Voila, Hakarl! Excuse me while I retch.
Now that I’ve successfully whet your appetite (it’s obvious I’m really, really rough around the culinary edges), let’s get back on course.
The main course in this tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean is fish (imagine that). It’s all over the menu, the creativity of these hearty Viking descendants surpassed only by their strong stomachs. Our decision to see the island via a tour meant most of our meals and thus options were limited to small diners specializing in local dishes, at least when it came to lunches.
Jim, on the other hand, can and will eat almost anything.
He dug into this popular dish called Plokkfiskur, a combination of fish, milk, butter, flour, onions and potatoes mashed to perfection. Pure comfort food!
Jim’s favorite dish was the seafood soup, a rich, creamy soup typically ladled thick with chunks of fish (usually cod or haddock) and served with bread. The fare was simple – no fancy presentation at these roadside diners – just colorful and hearty like the locals.
It didn’t matter where we ate lunch, the Meat Soup was always hearty and hot, often an all-you-can-eat option similar to the free refills on drinks in most fast food restaurants in the U.S. The refills were flying fast, but there was nothing about the soup that said fast food. If anything, I’d guess the stock base for the soup had simmered a minimum of 4 to 6 hours, rendering the lamb tender, the broth flavorful.
The pride with which Icelanders approach this national favorite is never more evident than the first day of winter (always sometime in late October for Icelanders) each year during Iceland’s National Meat Soup Day when tradition dictates that shop owners up and down Reykjavik’s Skolavordustigur Street shopping area offer free samples of their twist on this culinary favorite.
And of course, despite the remote destinations and limited dining options there was always something to satisfy Jim's sweet tooth. Okay, my sweet tooth too.
Tomorrow it’s presentation and panache at Akureyri’s Strikid restaurant where we experienced
Iceland's Blue Lagoon from a whole new perspective.