Text by: Samantha Bazely
Visiting a new country means seeing new things, hearing a new language, enjoying a new culture and eating new food! As a small volcanic country in the North Atlantic there is a wide array of foods that should be on your “must try” list. Although we may not have acres of fields to grow fresh fruits and vegetables, Iceland gets by with the help of greenhouses, farms and import from other countries.
There are so many great things you can try when you come to Iceland, the most popular traditional meals can be found here [INCLUDE LINK TO RECIPES ARTICLE HERE]. However, here is the list of foods that you must try when you come to visit this tiny but mighty island.
Rúgbrauð – This dark rye bread is one of the most amazing hidden gems of Iceland. Traditionally, folks would dig a hole and let the geothermal water until the surface cook the bread. This process would take 24 hours. Today, while there are still a few here and there who use this technique, many bakers choose to bake the bread at a very low temperature (100C) for 24 hours. This dark, dense bread is often served with butter and cheese, or an Icelandic meat smear.
Shark – While not something you would think to seek out to try, shark is one of those “you’re here so you should probably try it” sort of things. The shark museum on the north side of the Snæffellsnes peninsula is the best place to try this traditional delicacy. Fermented shark is actually the Greenland shark which is caught and processed here. It is a process that has been going on for generations.
Pylsur – This is no ordinary hot dog. The Icelandic hot dog (pylsur) is unlike any I’ve ever tried before. Whether you choose the traditional toppings of crunchy fried onions and mustard, or you venture outside the box with garlic sauce, Doritos and cheese, you won’t be disappointed. Deep fried to perfection, whatever toppings you pick this dining experience will be unique for you.
Skyr – Icelandic yogurt, Skyr, is something that I have found in stores in both Canada and the United States. This thick, somewhat bitter yogurt is a favourite amongst locals. Icelanders are particularly proud of this unique dairy product as it is something that kept the Vikings alive and is still incredibly popular today. As a protein rich dairy product, Skyr can often be found being served for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Lamb – Did you know there are more sheep per capita then people in Iceland? Lamb is one of the most common meats in Iceland (and one of the most common exports). There are dozens of ways to eat this Icelandic meat. Whether you cook it as a slow roasted leg of lamb, a fillet, or even a burger, lamb is one of the most tender and delicious red meats to eat.
Seafood – Surrounded by the cold waters in the north, Iceland produces some of the best seafood. There is something for everyone, scallops, mussels and fish. My favourite way to have the taste of it all is in Icelandic seafood soup. After exploring the lava fields and mountains of Iceland, the best way to warm up is to enjoy some fresh bread and warm creamy seafood soup. Full of mussels, chunks of white fish, small shrimp and mussels, it’s a great way to enjoy it all the sea has to offer in one bowl.
Although Iceland may not have vast vineyards or hectors of vegetable gardens, Icelanders have done an excellent job thriving with the meat and produce available to them. I mean, if it was good enough for the Vikings, who are we to deviate from that?