The sun has blazed steadily in the hazy sky here over Reykjavík for the past couple of days, heralding the season of midnight sunsets, empty office buildings, and the three –ins: campin’, off-roadin’, and grillin’.
I’m only going to discuss one of the –ins today: Grillin’. To be fair, firing up the barbeque is not exclusively a summer activity here in Iceland, but outdoor cooking kicks into high gear as the weather grows warm enough to sit comfortably outside long enough to eat a hunk of marinated lamb. Displays of bags of charcoal have popped up in grocery stores alongside paper plates, paper napkins and industrial utensils to wield when facing off with your Q of choice.
What kind of barbeque you have says a lot about you. So when you come to Reykjavík and are invited to a summer grill, on a balcony of Reykjavík or out at a summerhouse, take a good long sidelong glance at your host’s wares.
Here’s a rough guide to Iceland's barbeque jungle:
The Cadillac: These shiny beasts are for sale in major grocery stores for about half a year’s worth of my rent. They expand out to the size of a small trailer, with functions that would make any good grillin’ man feel taller, stronger, and more in control of his natural environment. You are in safe hands.
The Camry: This no-frills, functional grill black bowl comes in small and a little bigger. It has no bells or whistles. Just dump charcoal in the bowl and burn. Camry’s tend to hang outside yearround, so don’t judge your host for rust on the grill. You can eat rust.
The Weekender: This disposable grill can be purchased at gas stations and grocery stores pretty much anywhere. Good in a pinch, the whole unit consists of an aluminum tray with a few brickets thrown in under a little wire grill. Convenient, but speaks volumes about your host’s committment to art of barbeque. Proceed with caution.
The Boy Scout: Cute as a button, this portable metal grill, bought at a camping store or the equivalent, is sturdy and convenient with a handle for carrying and legs that tuck into the grill’s body for easy trunk storage. You can take this little guy to the top of a waterfall or the side of a hot pot. A solid investment, the Scout oozes Love of Grill.
I hope you feel a little more prepared for what’s out there. Since Icelanders generally tote their own grill ingredients to a grill party, and they all have secret family recipes for meat marinades that will knock your socks off, what to bring to the grill is another can of worms. As a non-cook, and spinner of bad cliches, I don’t know if I’m the one to open it for you.