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  • Writer's pictureLinda Schlencker

Rotting shark and other Icelandic delicacies

In July 2016 I escorted our first ever Self Drive Adventure to Iceland. My good friend Andrew was my Arctic Modified Truck co-driver (he had the Vanilla "Ice, Ice Baby" thing going on as you will see from the pics below). Our fun group was treated not only to Iceland's epic beauty but also to some rather interesting food and drink. Here's a video of the entire trip.

The food for me came down to 3 categories:

1. You can eat it, but I didn't.

2. You can eat it, and it is delicious.

3. You can eat it, but I never need to eat it again.

Category 1: You can eat it, but I didn't.

Puffin: Tourists can eat it, but please don't. Puffin are now on the endangered list. Apart from that, they seemed to beautiful to eat. We saw these beautiful birds hugging the cliffs near the northern Town of Akueryri.

Whale: It can be eaten raw or cooked. Again, I'd rather watch these beauties swim around than have a bite. There are day tours from Reykjavik and also other towns around Iceland. I am not 100% on this but there seems to be quite a lot of references that say it is not even a traditional food of Iceland.

Horse: Icelandic horses you see everywhere. The meat is available on the menu domestically but from what I read most of the meat is exported to Japan, Russia, France and Italy as they are countries where there is a tradition of eating horse. Something very interesting about these beautiful horses is that they have a 5th gait called the tölt. They can walk, the trot, the canter, the tölt, and the gallop. Watch the gaits here.

Category 2: You can eat it, and it is delicious.

Smoked Trout: It is soooooo smokey. I had it on a pizza at Lake Myvatn and it was pretty delicious. It was also the most expensive pizza I had ever eaten, but everything is expensive in Iceland.

Viking Beer: What do you mean beer is not food? Of course it is. Viking gold is a lovely drop.

Meat Soup: Usually it would be made with Icelandic lamb and lots of vegetables. It is a fabulous "hearty" home style soup.

BBQ Lamb: Like Australia, Iceland also has a love affair with lamb on the barbie.

Hot dogs with crispy onion: Must be some kind of "fusion" food, but it was pretty good.

Pickled Cod: Hard to say (watch the video below), easy to eat.

Soda bread: This seems to be a fried bread. We had this for a picnic lunch with a chicken and mayo salad which oozed out of the holes in the bread.

Lava bread: At least that is what we called it. It is cooked underground slowly by geothermal warming and it is prefect with pate as Ross discovers in this video below.

Skyr: No list of Icelandic food would be complete without a reference to Skyr - Iceland's favourite dairy product. Think yogurt.

3. You can eat it, but I never need to eat it again.

Hákarl (fermented shark): Definitely what I would call a once in a lifetime experience. No need to try it again. It actually smells worse than it tastes and it quite chewy. Read more here if you must.

Brennivin: Now, when I was at a university "cultural" night, the Icelandic students introduced me to "Black Death" and it had a skull and crossbones on the front f the bottle. That is Brennivin, an unsweetened schnapps . It is fire water. Because hákarl is not so delicious, it can be washed down with with Brennivin and the Brennivin tastes almost palatable.

I think this series of Andrew trying hákarl probably says it all...

If not, maybe this video of Helen brings it to life for you...


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