Some of the Icelandic food hasn’t changed very much since the Viking age. Icelanders still eat dried fish that you can smell from miles away, ram testicles, whey pickled headcheese, whale blubber, liver pudding, blood pudding, horse meat and rye bread to count a few; we even have a festival, Mid–Winter Feast or Þorri, where everyone gets together and eat this traditional food. The reason for this type of food is that it’s possible to store all winter without getting bad. That was necessary in the old days because most people lived in farms all over the country and didn’t have the opportunity to go to the grocery store every day, especially since they had to travel everywhere on horses. Today Icelanders don’t eat this food as a regular meal but it has become a tradition on the Mid-Winter Feast.
Most Icelandic families eat fish frequently; it’s a common rule that fish should be served at dinner at least two times a week. Ýsa (haddock) og þorskur (cod) are a very popular type of fish in Iceland, but for example Skata (skate fish) is eaten on Desember 23rd, it’s very smelly and many people are not fond of it. A few other types of fish we often eat are Silungur(trout), Skötuselur (monkfish) and Lax (salmon). It has been said; The uglier the fish the better the taste. In Höfn, our home town, there is a festival every year called Humarhátið (langoustine festival), so needless to say langoustine is very popular in Höfn. You can get it at any restaurant in Höfn and people have it all the time in their homes. We serve it in many different ways, for example as langoustine soup, langoustine baguettes, langoustine pizza, grilled langoustine tails and a whole langoustine tail often served with garlic, garlic butter, tomatoes and basil.
Icelanders eat many different types of birds. Chicken is probably the most common bird meat in Iceland. Goose and duck are also very popular, but we never eat sparrow birds. Rjúpa (Rock ptarmigan) is very common at Icelandic Christmas dinner, the hunting season is only twelve-days. Lundi (Atlantic puffin) is also very popular in Iceland, and it’s known for its unique, colourful beak. But the puffin population is decreasing, and it is banned to kill them in certain parts of Iceland.
Some Food facts in Iceland
- Many people have fish oil (lýsi) every morning, it strengthens the growth of teeth and bones in children, and has beneficial effects on eyesight and boosts the immune system.
- Most families have dinner around 8 pm. It is most often the biggest meal of the day.
- Harðfiskur, or dried fish, is a very healthy snack. It’s filled with protein; 100 grams of dried fish is about 80-85% protein. It’s most often made from cod, Atlantic wolfish and haddock. It’s best served with a lot of butter.
- Skyr is an Icelandic dairy product made from curdled milk. It is very rich in protein and a very popular snack.
Even though Icelanders make a lot of their food themselve
s, they do import a great amount as well. For example, pasta, crackers, animal foods, supplements like protein bars and candy. Most fruits and vegetables are imported, but during the summer we get fresh Icelandic strawberries, which are the best strawberries in the world. Icelanders grow most of their vegetables all year round but most fruit is imported, for example bananas, pineapples and melons.
One of the most popular candies in Iceland is salty liquorice, but chocolate is very popular as well. Icelanders are known for mixing its liquorice and chocolate in so many different and good tasting ways. Iceland imports a lot of candy but there are a few companies here that make candy, Nói Siríus and Freyja are two very large candy companies in Iceland. We teach the children in Iceland that candy should only be eaten on Saturdays, but many grownups have it most days.
Traditional Icelandic Food
Even though a lot of the food that is eaten in Iceland today is imported from other countries there are still meals that we say are traditionally Icelandic. For example, we eat a lot of lamb and sheep and it is cooked it in many ways, in an oven, smoked, boiled, and in a meat soup to name a few. It is common to serve lamb with boiled potatoes, sauce, peas and mulled red cabbage. Iceland is also famous for its milk products; the most traditional thing is called skyr. Skyr would be described as a thick yogurt, with a bit more sour taste to it. Icelanders are also big fans of whipped cream and use that with a lot of desserts, like cakes and waffles.
Like mentioned before, a lot of the food that is eaten here in Iceland is imported. The same goes for fast food. A lot of the fast food places here come from the United States, like Subway, Dominos, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Dunkin Donuts and T.G.I Fridays but there are also our own local places. In Höfn there are several local places you can eat at in every price range. Visitors can get everything from our traditional hot dogs to our famous and fancy langoustine dishes.
Writtey by Anna Soffía and Þórdís