Kim over at Bacon and eh’s asked about traditional Icelandic food a few days ago, and-I-quote: “I would love if you could perhaps share with us a unique dish to Iceland and maybe provide the recipe? Are your meals much different than ours I wonder?”
Now, you may [or may not] note that YT took a few days to respond. Perhaps because she was trying to craft the perfect response, one that would not leave the general Iceland Weather Report readership beating a hasty virtual retreat.
AND NOW FOR A BRIEF HISTORY LESSON:
Iceland has been its own republic for a mere 60 years. It was previously a Danish colony, and before that a Norwegian colony. In those 60 years this nation has come A Long Way. Consider: people were still living in turf houses well into the last century, and parts of the country were so isolated that folks were pretty much stuck in their general region for the whole entire winter. Consequently, people had to be pretty ingenious when it came to preserving food because, well, it had to last for months. [And we’re not talking a broad selection here – as late as the 50s, apples and oranges were luxuries that were only available at Christmas]. Favoured methods of preservation were smoking, pickling and drying. Also – and this is very important to keep in mind – the general poverty of the nation made it necessary to utilize every possible part of the animal – right down to the bones, which children used for toys.
Consequently, “traditional Icelandic” includes things like: smoked lamb [delish], salted lamb [yum], dried fish [excellent, especially with butter], singed sheep’s heads [the tongue is the best part and personally I will not eat the eye], pickled whale blubber [my favourite food as a kid], pickled ram’s testicles [yech!], skyr [a thick yoghurt-type dairy product, really tasty] and flatcakes [rye oat, sort of burnt and very tasty with butter and smoked lamb].
However, now that this nation has morphed into a Modern Republic with one of the highest living standards in the world, foods such as those listed above have more or less been relegated to novelty status [as some of you will remember from this post]. In other words, if you go to a restaurant here you are not likely to find any of that stuff. [You’ll have to go to the Kolaportið indoor market for that]. However, what you will find is lots of fusion – Icelandic chefs are pretty highly regarded in the culinary world [at least they manage to take home lots of awards] and tend to be excellent at mixing traditionally Icelandic raw ingredients [fish, seafood, lamb – which incidentally is amazing, as Icelandic sheep are allowed to roam wild for the entire summer and feed on herbs, grasses and ling] with the cuisine of other countries [France, Italy, et al].
So what this whole preamble is meant to convey is, I don’t really have a traditional Icelandic recipe to share. Those old traditional ones are sure to be a flop [plus the ingredients might be a tad hard to come by in Canada or elsewhere] and the modern ones, well, they probably aren’t all that different to Kim’s.
LÓAN ER KOMIN!!!
[Translation: The golden plover is here!!!]
The golden plover in Iceland is synonymous with summer, and the first sighting of this pretty bird is a Big Deal. And today it was spotted, just a stone’s throw from YT’s place, believe it or not. [Usually it’s somewhere in the south or east but nope, this year it is right near my place, which I will take as a sign that my personal summer will be superexcellent.] And oh, what fantastic weather we have had today! There has been hardly any wind and a couple of hours ago the sun came out and people headed outside in droves, I kid you not. Seemed to me they were all heading for the shore, where the views are gorgeous, but that may just be because I happened to be driving along the shore. Oh, and the tourists have arrived, too. Suddenly, in the space of a week, the town is full of them. Current temps are 9°C and daybreak was at 6.33, nightfall will be at 20.38.
Incidentally, it has been decided that the granting of Icelandic citizenship to Bobby Fischer will not have an effect on Iceland’s weather – today or any other day.