Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bizarre Foods - Iceland Part 1

We're back from our 10 day vacation! Iceland is not exactly a gourmet's mecca but we did the best we could. Like good foodies, we diligently tried to cover everything local to Iceland. If I may say so myself, I think we did quite well =)

1) Puffin
I remember puffins as the cute mascot used by the book publisher Puffin Books. They're endangered in some parts of the world but are apparently like pigeons in Iceland. The puffin we had was smoked and served as an appetizer. Puffin's red meat, salty since it was smoked and the texture was like hrmmmm .... raw beef.

Served here with a little honey mustard:

2) Guillemot
They are often mistaken for puffins. This carries over to the taste of the meat as well. I had it as part of a salad this time. It actually went pretty well with shavings of parmasan cheese so I enjoyed this better than the puffin which scared me a little.

The soup in the bowl is fish stew. Next to the salad with smoked guillemot:

3) Hákarl
And lo and behold! The most bizarre of them all. Putrid Shark! Putrid shark is putrid because it's buried for months, fermented and then hung to dry.

The experience wasn't all bad for me. I gingerly took a small bite (hey no water here, it was a farm not restaurant). It tasted like a messed up swiss cheese. Had a little bit of an issue swallowing it, mostly from the mental picture I conjured, but I managed. (Duh Gordan Ramsey is lame, saw on Wikipedia that he puked up the Harkarl in a food challenge.)

P on the other hand didn't have quite such a mild experience. He bravely ate the entire cube. According to him "it has a very strong ammonia after taste that burns your esophagus". Following that he mocked me for only having a small bite. Whatever :P maybe he has a future in Fear Factor.

Oh and one more thing. The smell stays with you. The entire farm had this weird mildly rotting stench. I got some of the shark on my fingers while trying to craft a smaller piece for myself. Bad move, I couldn't wash the odor away! EEEKS!!

It's hanging to dry here. Surprisingly the smell isn't as bad out here:



Dish This! said...

I also have had puffin in Iceland !! Your post just made me happy, but miss that place... can't wait to read more about your travels.

mini said...

Hi Dish this! ...did u like the puffin :) how long were u there?

Iceland was awesome, will write a bit more later. I need another vacation already ....

Dish This! said...

haha it was awhile ago, I think I liked it! I was only in Reykjavik for 3 days (a long weekend when I was studying abroad) but it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Although it is SO expensive!! I remember a bowl of soup was like 10 dollars. But everyone was so friendly and nice it kind of made up for it. Did you get to the thermal swimming pools??

mini said...

Sounds like fun! Where did you study abroad? I'm guessing Europe :) I hear Iceland has pretty hip nightlife. Did you visit the Golden Circle too?

We went to one of the thermal pools in the Myvatn are. It was so nice to soak in hot water when it's cold outside. I wish they had it here! And yes, everything was mad expensive! The kroner has dropped quite a bit recently (30%?). However, sadly soup is still $10! lol.

Jenny T. said...

No reindeer meat? I thought I saw this in the airport when I was there -- I have only been in the KEF airport on my way somewhere else. I'll have to go back to delight in the putrid shark! Blecky.

Anna Swindle said...

Hi! I'm a journalism student at Northwestern and am writing about putrid shark. I'd love to talk with you about your experience eating it! Can I email you about it?