Published in the 2012 issue of Issues and Images. By Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir. Photos by Páll Kjartansson.
“May I fill these up?” a woman carrying two empty wine bottles asks, and knowing the answer, proceeds to tap olive oil from a large iron container delivered straight from farmers in Sicily into her bottles. An elderly gentleman fills a plastic bag with small golden oranges from the same region, and a young mother hastily chooses goods, while checking on her baby in the carriage outside. Two Asian tourists enter the store, curiously scanning the selection, which includes crowberry-flavored salt and tea made of Icelandic herbs.
The quaint corner grocery store Frú Lauga, run by the epicurean couple Arnar Bjarnason and Rakel Halldórsdóttir, has a nostalgic atmosphere about it, with scales on the counter and friendly clerks in aprons. It carries old-fashioned Icelandic food products, along with creative innovations to local food culture, and mouth-watering goods from European farmers.
Apart from being located on the street Laugalækur, the store was named in honor of the couple’s grandmothers, three of whom shared the nickname Lauga and a love of food. After studying in the U.S. and Italy, Arnar and Rakel missed the diversity of the markets abroad, so they started to import products, mainly wine at first. They later sensed the need for promoting the quality in Icelandic agriculture and the idea for Frú Lauga was born. It opened as a farmers’ market in the heart of the capital in 2009.