Icelanders consume at total of nine million mandarins during the Christmas period. That’s 800 tons, or an average of between 25 and 30 mandarins each. Mandarins have long been a traditional Christmas treat, and probably the only healthy one too. But, what else do Icelanders eat during the festive season?
A visit to the supermarket in Iceland at this time of year is one way to find out:
Hangikjöt (smoked lamb), Ora grænar baunur (green beans from Ora), malt og appelsín (malt extract and orange soft drinks when mixed together are the traditional Christmas drink), piparkökur (ginger nut biscuits), boxes of chocolates (both Icelandic as well as the ever-popular imported brands like Quality Street confectionary), kryddsíld (pickled herring), rauðkál (pickled red cabbage), laufabrauð (leaf bread), skata (skate), hamborgarahryggur (smoked ham), graflax (pickled salmon), rjúpa (ptarmigan) and hreindýr (reindeer).
Icelandic ptarmigan (that sold in the store is imported) is difficult to get hold of as only a certain number of hunting licenses are issued each year and it is forbidden to sell the meat of ptarmigan caught in Iceland so those who get hold of it usually do so through friends or family.
With the cool winter temperatures and short days, Christmas seems like the perfect excuse to look forward to so many culinary treats.
Text & Photos: Zoë Robert – [email protected]