Icelandic cuisine

I was contemplating a holiday to Iceland. I was reading the guidebooks. The Rough Guides’ description of Iceland’s culinary delights stopped me dead in my tracks:

Harðifiskur, wind-dried haddock or cod, is a popular snack, eaten by tearing off a piece and chewing away …

Hákarl (Greenland shark) is a more doubtful delicacy, as it is first buried for up to six months in sand to break down the high levels of toxins contained in its flesh.

About the only endemic vegetable is a type of lichen that’s dried into almost tasteless, resilient black curls and snacked on raw or cooked with milk.

You can read it all at

For the sake of balance, I’ll mention that I own the fascinating Icelandic Food & Cookery by Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir (Hippocrene Books), and enjoyed one semester of Old Icelandic at uni.

7 thoughts on “Icelandic cuisine”

  1. We were in Iceland in August last year and I wrote about it on our blog.

    The shark is putrid and not many modern Icelanders look at the stuff.

    A lot of the cooking includes sugar and is quite sweet.

    There isn’t much else to say about the food!

    The country is amazing and we had a ball. However, it is expensive and you have to be aware of this before you go and budget to spend a lot of money.

  2. Thanks nzm! I know people who rave about skyr (a dairy product for those who aren’t in the know), but I just can’t get that enthusiastic about a simple dairy product.

    I gather Iceland is temporarily rather cheap for hordes of holidaying Poms, or something, but it won’t last long. I decided not to pursue the Icelandic project further:)

  3. Skyr is delicious. Smoother than yoghurt. We had it for breakfast almost every day. Iceland Air did it for us – on the flight into Iceland, they had little punnets of Skyr for the dessert. From then on, we were hooked. I think that it contains addictive substances!

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