Iceland: what to eat and the best Icelandic food
Iceland is one of the best places to be visited in Europe: it’s a totally different country with spectacular natural elements and views people dream to see at least once in their lifetime. This is not the place for advices on things to do but a place where I can easily advice you on what to eat when in Iceland, just to be sure not to miss anything and come home with a full baggage of great culinary experiences and a taste of the most important Icelandic food.
The cod is one of the most exported products from the Iceland especially in Southern Europe. The cod is not consumed regularly in Iceland but when you find it you eat baked with (lot) butter or dried as a snack just as the haddock (the so-called hardfiskur).
Gordon Ramsay couldn’t cope with the rotten shark but I recommend you to taste it as I did. The shark is left to rot for weeks (6 to 12) in wooden boxes under the ground so that he lost all his poison releasing ammonia. The smell is disgusting, the flavor not so much.
If you love yogurt you will love the Icelandic skyr that, despite everything, is not a yogurt itself but comes as cream cheese. Finding the traditional one is really hard today because the skyr is sold commercially everywhere but if you can taste the original version, mixed with cream or milk, then you will be transported to a different world. Ask for the skyr served with berries or honey and if you’re brave enough you can replace your dinner with a bowl of skyr, just like the old farmers were used to do.
La zuppa di aragosta
Bjork has called the lobster soup the Icelandic dish par excellence and I only recommend you to taste it with some rúgbraud (rye bread steamed or cooked below the ground near a natural source of heat). Lightly salted and with an intense flavor of lobster, it is a perfect reward after a day out, whether it is winter or summer.
To face the cold winter a beautiful meringue pie with lots and lots of cream inside will make you happy and you will immediately think of moving to Iceland. This is usually accompanied with a big cup of coffee and, I tell you, a slice is not enough!
Hjónabandssaela o Happy Marriage Cake
A very very buttery pastry with rhubarb jam to be eaten at all hours of the day. This cake was prepared by the wives to prove their husbands to be good housewives.
Astarpungar o Love Balls
Love balls are nothing but fried dough with raisins and cardamom. Excellent served with ice cream!
The hot dog in Iceland is good, rich and cheap as well. Ask for a full hot dog (eina meõ öllu) with ketchup, remoulade, fried and raw onions and mustard!
The Icelandic lamb is a very delicate and soft meat made so by open grassland and air that can only be beneficial to the animals that breathe it. Try the kjotsúpa, lamb soup with vegetables.
The Icelandic schnapps is obtained by the fermentation of potatoes and it is flavored with caraway seeds. Particularly strong, it’s the less expensive for of alcohol in Iceland but it also the most dangerous because it goes down without you even noticing.
Did you know that…
1. In Iceland people are so used to sustain themselves that they grow lots of products we traditionally associate with the Mediterranean countries. For example, tomatoes that are produced, along with many other vegetables and greens, in the so-called Greenhouses a few kilometers from the Gullfoss waterfall.
2. As in all countries of North Europe the alcohol costs a lot and Iceland doesn’t make any difference especially after the ban on drinking alcohol has felt in 1989.
3. Iceland is a volcanic country and volcanic debris are everywhere! This allows the local population to use natural sources for cooking and storing food.
4.The price of cod, as for all foods, varies with its quality but also on methods of fishing, processing and storage.
How much food costs in Iceland?
In Iceland eating out costs a bit more than in the rest of Europe but, exactly as I said for Norway, you don’t have to be so worried and bring stocks of food from your country! Just not be fussy and if a a place does not inspire you because it is not for tourists that’s probably the best place to eat, if breakfast is abundant in your hotel no one will tell you anything if you carry off a sandwich, in the roadside the sandwiches are not expensive and if you are outside the tourist spots with 7 euro you can quietly eat a sandwich and drink.
[Foto di Giuseppe Milo]