A bite of Icelandic food culture
“Ett bett av isländsk matkultur” was first published on my Swedish Blog.
Mead, mead, mead and bark, and maybe the occasional meat bone. That’s probably what they eat, those vikings out on the icy island in the middle of nowhere!
To me, food is a big part of travelling, and trying the local food culture is a must.
My visit to Iceland in 2013 was no exception. Some I fell in love with, and others – not so much.
So, what are they really eating?
Skyr – amazing yoghurtish sludge, which at times tasted almost like Pannacotta! OMG, what a crazy favourite, like heaven for me. Pannacotta for breakfast!!! Back home I’ve tried the imported Skýr, but that one was awful, so I’ll probably not eat that outside of Iceland again.
Slátur – almost what it sounds like, and means in Icelandic: SLAUGHTER!
It’s a slaughter you are chewing on.
I tried this one morning for breakfast – totally unafraid, I must add, so you don’t think I’m picky or anything. I ordered an Icelandic farmer’s breakfast and waited in excitement. “The slaughter” was in the middle of the plate, dark brown and looked like finely minced meat.
Well, it didn’t look too positive for me, but I wasn’t about to let me be beaten down so easily, so I put the fork in the slaughter and cut off a piece and put it in my mouth.
I didn’t throw up or anything, didn’t even feel sick, but I immediately felt the soft, smooth surface and knew it was something intestinal. And after a few seconds googling it turned out to be: some sort of black pudding made of… well, why even bother to find out? It wasn’t particularly tasty.
I’ve always had a problem eating intestines; it’s got a very particular texture and taste, for all of you who haven’t tried it; it’s soft, and smooth and creapy, and to me, it feels like it’s just growing in your mouth. When you see it raw you can see the holes in it, and honestly…
how tasty is that? Yikes…
Back to the task at hand, now.
Kjötsúpa – Of course I tried the well known Icelandic meat soup (with lamb). Lamb isn’t really one of my favourites, meat isn’t really my favourite type of food; when I’m cooking for myself I never cook meat. I had to try the soup in the well known Kaffi Loki, which is located opposite Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik. The soup was incredibly tasty, but would’ve been as tasty without lamb – IMO. I got flat bread with smoked lamb with the soup – amazingly tasty. Flat bread is the shit!
Lamb – is eaten in an enormous amount, and it would be strange if it weren’t, because there are 1,5 sheep per inhabitant… It seems to have arisen some kind of “trend” here on Iceland, too, like in many countries, where one is encouraged to eat locally produced food, etc. The import of meat is strictly regulated and several restaurants in Reykjavik are only using ingredients from Iceland, and there are plenty of sheep on the island, as stated, so they won’t have to starve anytime soon.
Raw food – In Restaurant Gló. Wonderful food. I can really recommend this place. Raw food isn’t Icelandic, but it made my list since I tried it for the first time in Reykjavik.
Some restaurants are serving whale, which I didn’t try, mostly because it didn’t feel right, I don’t know why.
One restaurant I passed almost daily served Scandinavian food – Swedish, Danish and Norwegian. Their menu didn’t show a single Swedish dish, though. At least not to my knowledge. No meatballs, no falukorv (a Swedish sausage), but they did serve smörrebröd and hamburgers. Well, I didn’t go to Iceland to eat Swedish food, so no catastrophe there, but I found it interesting, anyhow.
What restaurant will I be visiting next time too?
A clear favourite in Reykjavik was Buddha Café on Laugarvegur (the shopping street), where they served a mixture of Asian dishes. The oldest Asian restaurant in Reykjavik is the chinese Asia Restaurant. At this place I enjoyed a delicious meal, which was actually all authentic and spicy, which usually is a hard task when you’re eating chinese food in Sweden – it’s too Swedish and tasteless!
The dining range in Reykjavik is limitless…
There are no limits to the dining range in Reykjavik; there’s Chinese, Japanese – an incredible amount of sushi places, probably due to the amount of Japanese tourists, Nepalese, SteakHouse, Icelandic of course, Italian, Spanish, Subway and so much more. There are restaurants for every taste.
My one big sorrow is that I didn’t get to visit Taco Bell while in the country, since I remember Taco Bell from my Los Angeles trip particularly well. I loved that place! Thankfully I was spared from McDonald’s during the whole trip – thank God they went into bankruptcy!
There are also plenty of food chains, like back home, 10-11 is a popular shop, which is always open. Here you can buy plenty of fast food, but also provisions for cooking on your own.
So, the sum of cardamom is you never have to go hungry in Reykjavik, because there is always something for all tastes and for all wallets.
My lunch at the Blue Lagoon