Not for the Squeemish!

2 10 2012

There are many traditional Icelandic dishes, other westerners would not touch! Here are a few that I have tried at the homes of Icelanders (sorry, no pictures of the food… just the cute animals!):

Minke whale. Second smallest of the baleen whales.

Served raw and cured in port wine sauce, Minke whale was one the best of the appetizers I tried. There is an international ban on whaling, however, Iceland is not party to this treaty and still practices the custom of whaling for meat. The overall minke whaling quota in Iceland this year is 216 animals. Only three other whaling boat operators applied for minke whaling permits in 2011 and one is docked here in Ísafjörður. Most of the whale is used and meat is only sold domestically.

Greenland Shark live farther north than any other shark species and are similar in size to great white sharks!

“Keep that jar shut shut!” was the theme of the evening. Fermented shark has the most unpleasant odor imaginable. Known as Hákarl, fermented shark is truly an acquired taste. The trick is to eat in one bite and not inhale. And have a drink in hand! The meat of the Greenland Shark caught here is toxic, containing high levels of urea and trimethylamine oxide. To neutralize the toxins and make the meat somewhat edible, it is drained of fluids and dried in the wind. Except it won’t dry all the way through. The outside dries and seals the inside, which then ferments, gradually breaking down the toxins. After three months the dry skin is removed and the meat is cut into cubes and served. It really was not that bad and everyone was shocked that i did not gag or vomit, and more that I barely even flinched!

Lumpfish are ugly little freaks!

The Lumpfish that provides the roes for Lumpfish Caviar is caught in the cold and clean waters around Iceland by small boats called “trilla” which bring to shore the freshest raw material. All the males go to local consumption where they are traditionally boiled in water and vinegar and served with potatoes and a piece of lumpsucker liver. The females nearly inedible and are almost exclusively fished for the roe, which is exported as luxury caviar. We only ate the boiled fish on toothpicks.

Up next on the dinner plate… Puffin and horse!

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