It’s Saturday evening and I’m seated in the kitchen of one of my childhood friends along with her brother and we’re laughing hysterically about our sewing.
Sewing. Perhaps not the typical activity for twenty and thirty-somethings on a Saturday evening when most of our peers are probably gearing up to hit the town…
Granted, sewing clubs are an institution in Iceland and becoming more popular among younger people of both genders.
However, in spite of the name, sewing, knitting or stitching is not necessarily practiced at these gatherings and if so, I doubt our handiwork would have been approved.
We were sewing together pieces of tripe, sheep stomachs, which I had previously cut up—not particularly skillfully—to make casings for homemade slátur (‘slaughter’), blóðmör (blood pudding) and lifrapylsa (liver sausage).
We were laughing because my designs were pretty random, some of the casings being huge and looking like swim caps, others long and narrow like Christmas stockings.
Sewing casings for slátur is hard work, and as it was getting late and we were tired, we needed some comic relief. Although my hands were starting to ache, it had been a while since I had had as much fun on a Saturday evening.
The fun continued the next day with the making of the actual slátur, when we were reinforced by the latest member of the Slaughter Club, as we’ve opted to name it.
Another of my childhood friends has joined the circle. Other members have come and gone but she is determined to stay, she says.
Since 2007 we have upheld this tradition of producing slátur, healthy and delicious food, which is ridiculously cheap when you make it yourself.
An audio slideshow from the Slaughter Club’s first slátur-making session.
It’s a tradition that many Icelanders our age know from their youth when the extended family got together to make slátur in the fall.
After taking a dive, the tradition has experienced a comeback in recent years and judging by how busy the slaughter market at Hagkaup supermarket in Smáralind shopping mall was when we went there to buy the ingredients, it’s not about to disappear.
We got excellent service their too, a young woman advising us how many sheep stomachs, liters of blood, livers, kidneys and fat we would need, including hearts, diaphragms and svið (singed sheep heads) in the package.
In past years, making slátur has not been a lot of work at all, as we’ve been able to buy ready-made casings, but apparently, meat production companies have given up on that. In exchange, the ingredients have become even cheaper.
It’s possible to buy casings of other materials but casings from sheep stomachs make the slátur taste so much better and by using the natural material we make sure that even less of the slaughtered sheep goes to waste.
I stuck with the sewing throughout the slátur-making process, while the rest of the gang chopped up fat, mixed blood with oatmeal and flour, removed membranes from livers and kidneys and pureed them, proceeding to fill all the inventive casings.
In the afternoon we took a little break to have waffles. My friend, whose house it was, joked that we were acting like old housewives, smiling at her two-year-old who constantly demanded more cream on her waffle.
In the evening, we celebrated a hard day’s work with a slátur feast, inviting a previous member of the Slaughter Club to dinner. She was thrilled. The food was absolutely delicious and I have a feeling she will rejoin us next year.
We divided the many casings of blood and liver pudding equally between us, as well as the heads, hearts and diaphragms, and calculated the cost.
The latest member was amazed when she discovered that for ISK 2,000 (USD 16, EUR 12) she now had 20 meals for herself and plenty more for her dog.
The Slaughter Club has done it again. Oh yes, slátur is here to stay.
Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir – [email protected]