Icelandic cuisine is a delightful reflection of the island nation’s rich heritage and reliance on the surrounding sea and rugged land. Here are some key tips to guide you through the unique food culture of Iceland.
1. Try Traditional Icelandic Dishes
Icelandic cuisine is robust and hearty. Try ‘Hákarl’, fermented shark, or ‘Plokkfiskur’, a comforting fish stew. Lamb also plays a significant role in Icelandic cuisine, often served roasted or in a soup.
2. Experience Icelandic Seafood
Given its location, Iceland offers an abundance of fresh seafood. From Arctic char to Atlantic cod and langoustines, the seafood is a must-try.
3. Savor Icelandic Dairy
‘Icelandic Skyr’, a thick, creamy dairy product similar to yogurt, is a local favorite, often eaten at breakfast or as a dessert with berries.
4. Taste Local Breads and Pastries
Try ‘Rúgbrauð’, a dark rye bread traditionally baked in geothermal ground, and ‘Kleinur’, a type of fried pastry.
5. Sample Unique Meats
Iceland is home to some unique meats, such as ‘Hangikjöt’ (smoked lamb), ‘Svið’ (singed sheep’s head), and ‘Harðfiskur’ (dried fish jerky).
6. Try Icelandic Beverages
Don’t miss ‘Brennivín’, a traditional schnapps often called “Black Death,” or enjoy locally brewed beers. For non-alcoholic options, try ‘Mysa’, a drink made from whey.
7. Visit Local Markets
Local markets, such as Kolaportið flea market in Reykjavik, offer a variety of traditional Icelandic foods and fresh produce.
8. Enjoy Dining Traditions
The main meal of the day in Iceland is dinner, with lunch often consisting of a light meal such as soup or sandwiches. Also, tipping is not a common practice in Iceland.
9. Understand Sustainability Practices
Icelandic cuisine is grounded in sustainability, from the use of geothermal energy in greenhouses to the free-range rearing of livestock. Embrace this ethos when choosing places to eat.
10. Engage with Locals
Interacting with locals can guide you to hidden culinary gems and traditional eateries, offering you an authentic taste of Icelandic cuisine.
The culinary scene in Iceland is a delightful blend of tradition and modernity, firmly rooted in the country’s unique environment and culture. From tasting traditional dishes like Hákarl and Plokkfiskur to enjoying fresh seafood and unique meats, food is a fascinating way to explore Iceland’s rich heritage. Gjörðu svo vel!