This summer I had the good fortune to go to Iceland on a Dialogue program, and it was the most amazing experience I have had here at NU thus far (and maybe even my life). One of the perks was exploring the unique and interesting food scene around Iceland.
At the Cafe Loki, located at the base of Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik, we had the opportunity to experience several traditional Icelandic dishes. I ordered a cup of Icelandic tea, made from Icelandic moss, Arctic thyme, and Icelandic birch. I’m not much of a tea person but was pleasantly surprised by its tastiness. Others in my group enjoyed a Priest’s coffee – coffee with a shot of the famous Icelandic spirit, Brennivín.
We also ordered rye bread ice cream, which is so much yummier than it sounds. The rye bread is ground up and added to vanilla ice cream, and then a rhubarb syrup is drizzled over the top of a whipped cream tower. HOLY COW. So yumma. Not sure if the bread is sweet to begin with, but to me the bread tasted almost chocolately when in with the ice cream.
So as not to completely indulge ourselves, we also ordered fermented shark! It’s supposedly the national dish of Iceland, but our waitress smirked as she placed it in front of us as she said “Don’t breathe in, and good luck.” NOT comforting, but we went for it anyways. We all ate one piece and a few brave souls went back for seconds (I tried but my body did not agree that this was a very good idea and so the 2nd piece never quite made it down….). In short, it was disgusting. The long description is that the incredibly potent smell just overtook your sense of smell and taste and hung out in the back of your throat and nasal cavity and it took many swallows of beverages to clear the sensation.
Though we would likely never eat the fermented shark ever again, we are so glad that we did eat it since it offered us a unique perspective of Icelanders’ culinary traditions, which stems from a need to use all their resources fully and let very little go to waste.
The scenery of Iceland was amazing, and the distinctive food memories I also hold from this country make the trip so memorable. I do have some other food experiences to share, so be sure to check the blog often for some more stories!