Sometimes anticipation of the delicacies of a destination excites us. Other times we feel trepidatious. In the case of Iceland, we were under the impression that we might return from our trip a little lighter. After all, we had no intention of consuming putrefied shark, boiled whale blubber or roasted sheep’s head. But none of those things were on the menus we sampled. While our diet plan was thwarted, we are happy to report that we ate well throughout the country.
The national food of Iceland is not, as the internet would have you believe, hákarl (fermented Greenland shark). It is lamb, sourced from hormone-free animals that have spent their lives peacefully grazing on the country’s pristine pasturelands. We had tender lamb rib-eye, hearty lamb stew (kjötsúpa) and even lamb hot dogs (pylsa), popular street fare slathered in a sweet brown mustard, remoulade and onions both fried and raw.
Fish, of course, is ubiquitous, so we ate quantities of fresh salmon, cod, ling and herring. Langoustines were another staple we enjoyed, predominantly in “lobster soup” with spoonfuls of heavy cream. Occasionally, reindeer pâté graced the menu, and once we were surprised to find horse (yes, those adorable Icelandic ponies are also eaten, albeit rarely).