Eating local in Iceland

On a recent trip to Iceland, eating local was a memorable part of the adventure.

 The church at Budir.

The church at Budir.

The traveling trio--Ed, my husband, Finn, our 13 year-old grandson, and myself--wanted to sample local Icelandic delicacies.  Or, at least, I did!

At our second meal we ate whale.  "Whale blubber?" a friend asked afterward.  No, not whale blubber.  Whale meat.  It was served as an appetizer and marinated beyond recognition.  It was fine.  It tasted more like the marinade than the whale.

Our next Icelandic delicacy was puffin--the cute local bird.  We also ordered this as a appetizer.  When the server brought it to us he said, "It tastes between horse and geese."  Oh.  Our waiter when furious when he heard that.  "Puffin is a ocean bird," he said.  "It tastes of ocean breezes."

 Finn eating fermented shark.

Finn eating fermented shark.

We'd been warned about shark.  It's fermented and everyone said you can smell it from 2 blocks away.  They also said, "It tastes better than it smells."  At the Shark Museum we were served small cubes of smelly fermented shark.  To their credit, Finn and Ed ate theirs.  I spit mine out.  And just so you know, this shark is not caught on purpose. It's shark that's been caught accidentally in fishermen's nets.

 Reindeer Carpaccio

Reindeer Carpaccio

Although in August we were a little ahead of the Fall reindeer season, our guide-driver managed to find us some.  It was served as Reindeer Carpaccio.  The thin raw slices looked pretty on the plate, but was too red, raw, and fleshy for me.  Finn, an adventurous eater, ate the whole thing!

Our last and final Icelandic delicacy was sheepshead.  I'd never heard of this, but at LAX before we boarded the plane to Iceland, Finn was reading about Icelanders eating sheepshead.  We had to try it.

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The sheepshead is served whole--its itty bitty little teeth still intact.  Its taste was my favorite.   The tongue was succulent and soft and tasted like good roasted delicate meat.

If you're going to Iceland, I'd recommend trying these local favorites.  I'd also suggest waiting for your visit.  Iceland has a population of only 330,000, and last year had 2.2 million visitors?!  As our guide, who make this living off tourism, said,  "Icelanders have lost our country.  The country has got to impose a quota on the number of tourists."  Right.