Iceland isn’t known for its food the way other countries are, but little did I know the treats I was in for! Seeing as we usually have three meals a day, we had more opportunities to try the food than any other activity.The traditional Icelandic breakfast (and lunch and dinner) is a ham and cheese sandwich with butter, tomato and cucumber on it. It was served at every place we ate. Some places had small differences in how it was served: a cafe had it on a different kind of bread, the airport offered the dish in panini form and one restaurant just served it with the breakfast platter. I must have eaten at least 12 of these sandwiches during the week we were there. The combination is not something I would have thought of, especially for breakfast, but it tastes really good.
The vegetables on this sandwich are pretty much the only ones we encountered. This makes sense considering a green house is required to grow just about anything. Protein and bread were the main food groups we found. And alcohol, but that is a given. Lamb is a huge part of the diet in Iceland than the US, and at a much better price. I got to try several forms of lamb for this reason. I tried smoked lamb, lamb pate, lamb stew, and likely a few more forms I just can’t remember.
Iceland is also one of only 3 countries that still allows whaling. When we went on the whale watching tour the guide tried to make all the passengers feel guilty about trying it. She claimed that native Icelanders did not eat the meat and it was meant for tourists only. As a tourist I felt obligated to try the meat. If I hadn’t the whale would have been killed in vain. (*Please note that restaurants only serve Minke Whale, not any that are endangered.) Whale tastes amazing. It is a lot like beef, but richer. When I told a friend that she thought it would be fishy, but most people forget that whale’s are mammals, not fish.
Puffin is another meat available in Iceland but not many other places. It is delicious!! I can’t even compare it to anything because it tastes like nothing I have ever tried before. The meat is a deep purple color and very rich. It is slightly sweet, which is why the restaurant served it with blueberry brennavin sauce.
Brennavin is one of the local liquors of Iceland. It is a clear liquor that resembles vodka in look and taste. It has less of a bite to it than vodka, though. Opal is the other local liquor we were encouraged to try. This one tasted like cough syrup. I didn’t like it. At all.
The beer, on the other hand, was all amazing. We tried a few of the local beers brewed on the island. I think Viking is the most well known, and also the only one we could pronounce. Gull (not pronounced the way it is spelt, it is pronounced Gudlt) and Polar Beer tasted similar. All three were light beers and quite tasty. I also tried a beer called “Black Death.” How could I not with name? It tasted a lot like Guinness.
There are literally 7 more things on my list about food I wanted to tell you all about, but I just realized how long this post was already. I may have a part 2 later, but I have to tell you guys about much more than the food!