This is the time of year for all kinds of traditional Icelandic foods.
In the past I’ve written about the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables and a variety of other products not available in Iceland. But the country has in recent years started to be recognized as a producer of high quality ingredients with an increasingly vibrant culinary culture.
While I’m personally not much for the soured meats savored at Þorrablót mid-winter feasts—delicacies like slátur, or blóðmör and lifrapylsa, (blood pudding and liver sausage), hákarl (fermented shark), hangikjöt (smoked and boiled lamb), harðfiskur (dried fish), hrútspungar (boiled and pickled ram testicles), selshreifar (cured seals flippers), svið (singed and boiled sheep heads), and sviðasulta (sheep headcheese)—there are a host of other foods which I enjoy.
Here are just a few:
- reyktur lax (smoked salmon), commonly served on toast with sinnepssósa, a specially-made mustard sauce: the perfect starter - plokkfiskur (fish and potato stew), served with rúgbrauð (rye bread), straight from the oven, is a good option for a cold winter’s day - humarsúpa (lobster soup) is always a treat, always different with each chef’s recipe - flatbrauð (flatbread) is delicious and always versatile—eaten with sweet or savory toppings, or with hangikjöt (smoked lamb) and reyktur lax, and is especially popular with the aforementioned Þorramatur. - skyrterta (skyr tart), a dessert similar to cheesecake but made with skyr (thick yoghurt-type dairy product; check here for recipes)
When it comes to fresh ingredients, availability of good quality fresh produce is steadily growing—like a variety of sweet tomatoes like piccolótómatar, konfekttómatar and kirsuberjatómatar, rófa (swede/rutabaga/yellow turnip) and greens like grænkál—and being worked into local cuisine.
If you’ve visited Iceland recently, let us know about your experiences with Icelandic cuisine; what are your recommendations for fellow travelers?
Zoë Robert – [email protected]