- Cuisine of Iceland
Important parts of Icelandic cuisine are fish, being in an area where fish is plentiful, lamb and
dairy. Popular foods in Icelandinclude skyr, hangikjöt(smoked lamb), kleinur, laufabrauðand bollur. Þorramaturis a traditional buffetserved at midwinter festivals called Þorrablótand containing a selection of traditionally cured meat and fish products served with " rúgbrauð" (dense dark rye bread) and brennivín(an Icelandic akvavit). Much of the taste of this traditional country food is determined by the preservation methods used; picklingin lactic acidor brine, dryingand smoking.
chefs usually place an emphasis on the quality of the available ingredients rather than age-old cooking traditions and methods. Hence, there is a number of restaurants in Iceland that specialise in seafoodand at the annual Food and Funchef's competition (since 2004) competitors create innovative dishes with fresh ingredients produced in Iceland. Points of pride are the quality of the lamb meat, seafood and (more recently) skyr. Other local ingredients that form part of the Icelandic chef's store include seabirds and waterfowl(including their eggs), salmonand trout, crowberry, blueberry, rhubarb, lichens, wild mushrooms, wild thyme, lovage, angelica and dried seaweedas well as a wide array of dairyproducts. Animalproducts dominate Icelandic cuisine and pursuing a veganlifestyle in Iceland is impossible without relying on imported foods. Popular taste has developed, however, to become closer to the European norm, and consumption of vegetables has greatly increased in recent decades while consumption of fish has diminished. ["Tillaga til þingsályktunar um aðgerðir til að bæta heilbrigði Íslendinga með hollara mataræði og aukinni hreyfingu." [Whitepaper on ways of improving the health of Icelanders through better nourishment and exercise] , Acts of the 131. legislature of Iceland, 2004-05, case 806 ( [http://www.althingi.is/altext/131/s/pdf/1354.pdf] )] Fresh lamb meat remains very popular while traditional meat products, such as various types of sausages, have lost a lot of their appeal with younger generations.
The roots of Icelandic cuisine are to be sought in the traditions of
Scandinavian cuisine, as Icelandic culture, from its settlement in the 9th century onwards, is a distinctly Nordic culture with its traditional economy based on subsistence farming. Several events in the history of Icelandwere of special significance for its cuisine. With Christianisation in 1000 came the tradition of fastingand a ban on horsemeat consumption, but the event which probably had the greatest impact on farming, and hence, food, was the onset of the Little Ice Agein the 14th century. This severely limited the options of the farmers who were not able to grow barleyanymore and had to rely on imports for any kind of cereal. The cooling of the climate also led to important changes in housing and heating where the longhouseof the early settlers, with its spacious hall, was replaced by the Icelandic turf houseswith many smaller rooms, including a proper kitchen, which persisted well into the 20th century.
reformationin 1550 marks the transition between the medieval period and the early modern periodin Icelandic history. Until the agricultural reforms, brought on by the influence of the Enlightenment, farming in Iceland remained very much the same from the 14th century to the late 18th century. A trade monopolyinstituted by the Danish king in 1602 had a certain impact on culinary traditions although the influence of the cuisine of Denmarkwas most felt in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. In the early 20th century an economic boom based on fishingcaused a slow transition from traditional dairy and meat-based foods to fish and root vegetables, which was at the same time a transition from the dominance of preserved foods towards greater emphasis on fresh ingredients.
When Iceland was settled by immigrants from
Scandinaviaand Vikingcolonies in the British islesthey brought with them the farming methods and food traditions of the Norseworld. Research indicates that the climatewas much milder in Iceland during the Middle Ages than it is now and sources tell of cultivation of barleyand oats. Most of this would have been consumed as porridgeor gruelor used for making beer. Cattlewas the dominant farm animal, but farms also raised poultry, pigs, goats, horses and sheep. The poultry, horse, sheep and goat stocks first brought to Iceland have since developed in isolation, unaffected by modern selective breeding. Therefore they are sometimes called the "settlement breed" or "Viking breed".
Fish was stored in
saltand before the Black deathIceland exported stockfishto the fish market in Bergen. However, salt seems to have been less abundant in Iceland than in Norwayand saltmaking, which was mostly done by boiling sea water or burning seaweed, gradually disappeared when overgrazing caused a shortage of firewoodin most parts of the country in the 14th century. Instead of curing with salt the practice of preserving meatin lactic acidbecame dominant in Iceland. This method was also known from Norway but acquired little significance there. Archeological digs in medieval farms have revealed large round holes in storage rooms where the barrel containing the acid was kept. Two medieval stories tell of men who save their lives in a burning house by staying submerged inside the acid barrel. Like the Norwegians, medieval Icelanders knew the use of fermentation for preserving both fish and meat, a method that greatly alters the taste of the food, making it similar to very strong cheese. Fermentation is still used to cure shark(see hákarl), skateand herring. Fermented eggs are a regional delicacy, rarely found nowadays. The practice of smokingand dryingmeat and fish was also practiced, although the drying of meat was seen as somewhat of a last resort, the preferred method being pickling in acid.
Cheesewas made from goat and sheep milk as well as cow milk. Skyr, a soft yoghurt-like cheese eaten with spoons, was originally a tradition brought to Iceland from Norway but has only survived in Iceland. The wheyleft over when making skyr was made to go sour and used as lactic acid for storing meat. It is likely that the predominance of skyr in Icelandic cuisine caused the disappearance of other cheesemaking traditions in the modern era, until industrial cheesemaking started in the first half of the 20th century. Cheesemaking made necessary the practice of seter-farming ("seljabúskapur"), living in mountain huts in the highlands in late spring where the kids/lambs were separated from their mothers while they were milked. Cheesemaking would sometimes take place directly in these huts.
Cooking and meals
longhouses of the first settlers there was usually a long fire in the center to warm the house. Around it there were holes dug in the floor that were used as earth ovens for baking bread and cooking meat by placing it in the hole, with hot embers from the fire, and covering tightly for the time needed. Boiling was done in wooden staved churns by putting hot stones from the fire directly into the liquid (a practice that continued to the modern age). Low stone hearths were also used, but mostly the cooking was done on the floor. The longhouses were gradually replaced by Icelandic turf housesin the 14th century. These would have a kitchenwith a raised stone hearth for cooking called "hlóðir". At the same time the cooling of the climate during the Little Ice Agemade it impossible to grow barley and sheep replaced the more expensive cattle as dominant livestock. Iceland became dependent on imports for all cereals. The shortage of firewood meant that peat, dungand dried heatherbecame standard heating materials.
In medieval Iceland there were two meals during the day, the
lunchor "dagverður" at noon and supperor "náttverður" at the end of the day. Food was eaten from bowls. Wooden staved tankards with a hinged lid were used for drinking, but these would later develop into the bulging casks, called "askar" used for serving food. Elaborately carved drinking horns were used on special occasions by the upper class. Spoons were the most common eating utensil, made of hornor bone, and often decorated with carvings. Except for feasts, where tables would be laid, people ate their food from their lap, sitting on their beds which lined the outer wall of the longhouse. An important role of the farmer's wife was to correctly portion the food. In richer households this role was entrusted to a special butlercalled "bryti".
Early modern period
The thing that defined Icelandic
subsistence farmingfrom the middle ageswell into the 20th century, was the short production period (summer) compared to the long cold period. Apart from occasional game, the food produced in the three months of summer had to suffice for nine months of winter. It has been estimated that using these methods of subsistence Iceland could support a population of around 60,000. During all these centuries farming methods changed very little and fishing remained confined to hook and line from rowboats constructed from driftwood. As the boats were owned by the farmers, fishing also remained confined to periods when the farmhands weren't needed for farm work. Fish was not just a food, but could also be readily exchanged for products brought by foreign merchant ships, especially cereals, such as ryeand oats, transported to Iceland by Danish merchants. Surplus fish, tallowand butterwould be used to pay the landowner his dues. Until the 19th century, the vast majority of Icelandic farmers were tenant farmers on land owned by the Icelandic landowner elite, the church or (especially after the confiscation of church lands during the reformation) the king of Denmark.
A lot of regional variation existed in subsistence farming according to whether people lived close to the
oceanor inland. Also, in the north of the country the main fishing period unfortunately coincided with the haymaking period in the autumn. This lead to the underdevelopment of fishing compared to the south where the main fishing period was from February to July. Some authors have described Icelandic society as a highly conservative farming society where the demand for farmhands in the short summers led to fierce opposition among tenant farmers and landowners, to the formation of fishing villages. As fishing was considered risky compared to farming, the Alþingiwould pass many resolutions restricting or forbidding the habitation of landless tenants on the coast.
Another result of the dominance of subsistence farming in Iceland was the lack of specialisation and
commercebetween farms. Interior trade seems to have been frowned upon as a type of usuryeven from the age of settlement as testified in some of the Icelandic sagas. Trade with foreign merchant ships was lively, however, and vital for the economy, especially for cereals and honey, alcoholand (later) tobacco. Fishing ships from the coastal areas of Europewould stop for provisions in Icelandic harbors and trade what they had with the locals. This would include stale beer, salted pork, biscuits and chewing tobaccosold for knitted wool mittens, blankets etc. Merchant ships would also arrive occasionally from Holland, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, Franceand Spain, to sell their products, mainly for stockfish, prominently displayed in the royal seal of Iceland. In 1602 the Danish king, who was worried about the activities of English and German ships in what he saw as his own waters, instituted a trade monopolyin Iceland, restricting commerce to Danish merchants who were, in turn, required to regularly send merchant ships to Iceland carrying trade goods the country needed. While illegal trade flourished in the 1600s, stricter measures were taken to enforce the monopoly in 1685. The monopoly remained in vigor until 1787. One of its results was the predominance of ryegrown in Denmark, and the introduction of brennivín, an akvavitproduced from rye, at the cost of other cereals and beer.
Different types of
breadwere considered a luxury among common people, although they were not uncommon. The corn bought from the merchant would be ground using a quern-stone(called "kvarnarsteinn" in Icelandic) and supplemented with dried dulse(seaweed) and lichens. Sometimes it was boiled in milkand served as a thin porridge. The porridge could be mixed with skyr to form "skyrhræringur". The most common type of bread was a pot breadcalled rúgbrauð, a dark and dense rye bread, reminiscent of the German pumpernickeland the Danish rugbrød, only wetter. This could also be baked in by burying the dough in special wooden casks in the ground close to a hot springand picking it up the next day. Bread baked in this manner has a slightly sulphuric taste. Dried fish with butter was served with all meals of the day, serving the same purpose as the "daily bread" in Europe.
Cooking and meals
The preparation of food took place in the kitchen where cooking was done on raised stone "hlóðir" with hooks suspended from above for holding the pots at the desired height above the fire.
Ovens were rare, as these required lots of firewood for heating, so baking, roasting and boiling was all done in cast iron pots, usually imported. The two meals of the medieval period were replaced by three meals in the early modern period; the breakfast("morgunskattur") at around ten o'clock, lunch("nónmatur") at around three or four in the afternoon, and supper("kvöldskattur") at the end of the day. [Hallgerður Gísladóttir (2000), "Eldamennska í íslensku torfbæjunum" [Cooking in the Icelandic turf houses] , Byggðasafn Skagfirðinga, pp. 23.] In the Icelandic turf housespeople would eat sitting on their beds, with the food served in askar, low and bulging wooden staved casks with a hinged lidand two handles, often decorated, with the spoon food served in the cask and dry food placed on the open lid. Each household member would have his personal askur to eat from and was responsible for keeping it clean.
Móðuharðindin, arguably the greatest natural disasterto have hit Iceland after its settlement, took place in 1783. Ten years earlier, a ban on Danish merchants residing in Iceland had been lifted and five years later the trade monopoly was ended. This meant that some of the Danish merchants became residents and some Icelanders became merchants themselves. The Napoleonic Wars 1803- 1815led to a shortage of provisions as merchant ships stopped arriving and Icelanders had to rely on themselves leading to the increased popularity of locally produced garden vegetables. 19th century nationalism and schools for women were influential in shaping modern Icelandic cuisine and formalising traditional methods.
The first written
cookbooks to be published in Icelandic were collections of Danish recipes published in the 18th century and their purpose was to introduce the cuisine of the wealthier classes in Denmark-Norwayto their peers in Iceland. The recipes would sometimes have a "commoner version" with less expensive ingredients for the farmhands and maids. The influence of the cuisine of Denmarkwas, however, felt long before that due to the influence of the Danish merchants. When some of these became residents in Iceland after a ban on their settling was lifted in 1770, they often ran a large household characterised by a mixture of Danish and Icelandic customs. The growth of Reykjavík, which had become a village by the end of the 18th century, also created a melting potof Icelandic and Danish culinary traditions. Fishing villages formed in the 19th century, many of them situated by the trading harbours which previously had been nothing more than a natural harbourwith perhaps a locked warehousenearby. The Danish influence was most pronounced in pastry-making where there were few native traditions to begin with. Bakers of Danish origin operated around the turn of the 20th century in both Reykjavík and Akureyriand some Danish pastry-making traditions have survived longer in Iceland than in Denmark.
vegetablegardens were constructed as agricultural experiments in the late 1600s but growing vegetables did not become common until the Napoleonic Warswhen merchant ships stopped arriving. Usually the first to start growing vegetables were resident Danes who brought this tradition from Denmark. Popular garden vegetables at first included hardy varieties of cabbage, turnip, rutabagaand potato. These entered Icelandic cuisine as boiled accompaniments to meats and fish, sometimes mashed with butter.
In the first half of the 20th century many
home economicsschools, intended as secondary educationfor women, were instituted around Iceland. Within these schools, during a time of nationalistic fervor, many Icelandic culinary traditions were formalised and written down by the pupils, and published in large recipe compendia which started appearing in print a few years later. Later emphasis on food hygieneand the use of fresh ingredients was a novelty in a country where culinary traditions had until then revolved around preserving the food for a long time, but where a modern economy was now booming, based on the export of seafood. Many rejected thus outright the traditional food and embraced the new bywords of "freshness" and "purity" associated with ingredients from the sea, especially when marketed abroad. A revival of old traditions came with regional associations of Icelanders who had moved to Reykjavík during the urbanisation boom of the late 1940s. These associations organised popular midwinter festivals where they started serving "Icelandic food", traditional country foods served in a buffetthat was later called Þorramatur.
In the beginning of the 20th century farmers living near the towns would sell their products to shops and directly to households, often under a
subscriptioncontract. In dealing with the effects of the Great Depressionin 1930 the government of Iceland instituted state monopolies on various imports, including vegetables, and gave the regional farmers' cooperatives, most of them founded around the turn of the century, a monopoly on dairy and meat production for the consumer market. This meant that smaller private producers were out of business. The large cooperatives were seen as a way to implement economies of scale in agricultural production and were able to invest in production facilities meeting modern standards of food hygiene. These cooperatives still dominate, almost unchallenged, agricultural production in Iceland. One of the things pioneered by them was the creation of a new cheesemaking tradition based on popular European varieties of gouda, blue cheese, camembertetc. Cheesemaking (apart from skyr) had by then been practically extinct in Iceland since the 1700s. They have also driven product development, especially in dairy products, with e.g. whey-based sweet drinks and variations of traditional products such as "Skyr.is", a creamier, sweeter skyr, which has boosted the popularity of this age-old staple.
Fishing on an industrial scale with
trawlers started before WWI. This meant that fresh fish became a cheap commodity in Iceland and a staple in the cuisine of fishing villages around the country. Until around 1990 studies showed that Icelanders were consuming much more fish per capita than any other European nation. This has changed in recent years though, in part because of steeply rising fish prices.
Types of food
Iceland offers a fine variety of all kinds of foods produced locally. The quality is excellent, in part because of a very clean environment.
Fish dishes in Iceland are Icelandic fish which is caught in the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. Fresh fish can be had all the year round. Icelanders eat mostly
haddock, plaice, halibut, herringand shrimp.
Perhaps the best is lamb meat ( _is. lambakjöt), mostly because the sheep range freely in the mountains. Iceland has strict regulations relating to meat production and the use of hormones is strictly forbidden. Poultry farming is considerable in Iceland. The most common types of bird reared are chicken, duck and turkey. Certain species of wild birds are hunted, including geese ducks and ptarmigan.
Traditionally the main source of meat was the domestic
sheep, the most common farm animal in Iceland. However, sheep were also used for their milkand wooland thus were worth more alive than dead. This meant that once a sheep was slaughtered (usually the young rams and infertile ewes) most or all of the carcass was used for making food, which was carefully preserved and cherished. Traditionally lambs are slaughtered in the autumn, when they are more than three months old and have reached a weight of almost 20kg. Horses were not eaten after Christianisation except as a last resort, but this attitude started changing after the middle of the 18th century and horse meat, usually salted and served boiled or in "bjúgu", a form of smoked sausage, has been common in Iceland from the 19th century onwards.
beefis usually of top quality with good marbling due to the cold climate. Icelandic cattle are grass-fed and raised without growth hormones and drugs. However, the lack of tradition for eating beef (mutton being the dominant meat) means that lower quality meat is sometimes sold without distinction requiring careful choice from the buyer.
Small game in Iceland consists mostly of
seabirds ( Puffin, Cormorantand Great Black-backed Gull) and waterfowl( Mallard, Greylag gooseand Pink-footed Goose). The meat of some seabirds contains fish oiland is therefore placed in a bowl of milk overnight to extract the oil before cooking. One species of wildfowl, Ptarmigan, is also found in Iceland although dramatically declining stocks in later years have led to a ban on their hunting. Ptarmigan, served with a creamy sauce and jam, is a traditional Christmas main course in many Icelandic households. Sealhunting, especially the more common Harbor Seal, was common everywhere farmers had access to seal breeding grounds, which were considered an important commodity. Whereas mutton was almost never eaten fresh, seal meat was usually eaten immediately, washed in seawater, or conserved for a short time in brine. Seal meat is not commonly eaten anymore and is rarely found in stores.
A potential source of meat, systematic whaling was not possible in Iceland until the late 19th century due to the lack of ocean-going ships. Small whales were hunted close to the shore with the small rowboats used for fishing. Beached whales were also eaten and the Icelandic word for beached whale, "hvalreki", is still used to mean a stroke of good luck. When Iceland started commercial whaling (mostly
Minke Whales) in the early 20th century whale meat became popular as low-priced red meat which can be prepared in much the same manner as the more expensive beef. When Iceland withdrew from the International Whaling Commissionin 1992, commercial whaling stopped but some whale meat could still be found in specialised stores coming from small whales accidentally caught in nets or beached. In 2002 Iceland rejoined the IWC and commercial whaling recommenced in 2006. Whale meat is thus commonly available again, although the price has gone up due to the cost of whaling itself. Reindeerwere introduced in Iceland in the late 18th century and live wild on the moorlands in the eastern farthing. A small number is killed by hunters each autumn and their meat, with its characteristic taste, can be found in stores and restaurants most of the year. Reindeer meat is considered a special delicacy and is usually very expensive.
Limits on meat imports
Importing raw meat to Iceland is strictly regulated and dependent on specific licenses issued to importers. This is due to the dangers of contamination as most of the stocks of domestic animals raised in Iceland have no resistance to some diseases that are common in neighboring countries because of their centuries-long isolation. The ban even applies to tourists bringing e.g. cured ham or sausage with them through customs. All items of this sort found by customs officers are confiscated and burned.
Dairyproducts are very important to Icelanders. In fact, the average Icelander eats about 100 gallons of dairy products in one year. A wide range of cheeses and other dairy products are made in Iceland. There are over 80 types of cheese made, some of which have won international awards. " Skyr" (which is something between yogurt and the German "Quark") and mysa ( whey) are specialities that have been made in farms through the centuries in Iceland.
Fruits and vegetables
Even though Iceland is situated near the Arctic Circle, many garden vegetables are grown outside in the short summer, including
cabbageand potatoes. Some other vegetables, fruits and flowers are grown in geothermally heated greenhouses. Vegetable production and consumption is steadily growing with production going from around 8,000 tonnes in 1977 to almost 30,000 tonnes in 2007. ["Heyfengur og uppskera grænmetis, korns og garðávaxta 1977-2007", "Hagstofa Íslands", 2008 ( [http://www.hagstofa.is/?PageID=2092&src=/temp/Dialog/varval.asp?ma=SJA10103%26ti=Heyfengur+og+uppskera+gr%E6nmetis%2C+korns+og+gar%F0%E1vaxta+1977%2D2007+%26path=../Database/sjavarutvegur/landbufe/%26lang=3%26units=Tonn/m3] ).] One of the benefits of the cold climate is less need for pesticides. Vegetables such as rutabaga, cabbage, salads and turnips are usually started in greenhouses in the early spring and tomatos and cucumbers are entirely produced indoors. Iceland relies on imports for almost any type of fruitexcept wild berries. The slow warming of the climate since the early 20th century has made it possible to grow barleyfor human consumption in a few places, for the first time since the Middle Ages.
Bread and pastry
Modern Icelandic bakeries offer a wide variety of
breads and pastry. The first professional bakers in Iceland were Danish and this is still reflected in the professional traditions of Icelandic bakers. Long-time local favorites include "snúður", a type of cinnamon roll, usually topped with glazeor melted chocolate, and "skúffukaka", a single-layer chocolate cakebaked in a roasting pan, covered with chocolate glaze and sprinkled with ground coconut.
A variety of
layer cakecalled "randalín", "randabrauð" or simply "lagkaka" has been popular in Iceland since the 19th century. These come in many varieties that all have in common five layers of half-inch thick cake alternated with layers of fruitpreserve, jamor icing. One version called vínarterta, popular in the late 1800s, with layers of prunes, became a part of the culinary tradition of Icelandic immigrants in the U.S. and Canada. [cite web|url=http://www.arnastofnun.is/page/arnastofnun_ord_pistlar_lagterta|title=Lagterta|publisher=Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum|author=Ólöf Margrét Snorradóttir|year=2002|accessyear=2008|accessdate=3 July]
Traditional breads, still popular in Iceland, include
rúgbrauð, a dense, dark and wet ryebread, traditionally baked in pots or special boxes used for baking in holes dug near hot springs, and flatkaka, a soft brown rye flatbread. A common way of serving hangikjötis in thin slices on flatkaka.
Traditional pastries include
kleina, a small fried dough bun where the dough is flattened and cut into small trapezes with a special cutting wheel ("kleinujárn"), a slit cut in the middle and then one end pulled through the slit to form a "knot". This is then deep-fried in oil [Kleina is mentioned in one of the first cookbooks printed in Icelandic, "Einfaldt Matreidslu Vasa-Qver fyrir heldri manna Húss-freyjur" by Marta María Stephensen from 1800] . Laufabrauð(lit. "leafbread"), a very thin wafer, with patterns cut into it with a sharp knife and ridged cutting wheels and fried crisp in oil, is a traditional Christmasfood, sometimes served with hangikjöt.
Hákarl (meaning ‘shark’ in Icelandic) is rotten
sharkmeat. It is part of the þorramatur, the traditional seasonal Icelandic foods. It is known for its pungent taste and smell of ammonia. As such, eating hákarl is associated with hardiness and strength. It is often accompanied by brennivín, a local schnapps.
In Iceland the
Christmas dinneris traditionally served on Christmas Eve. Traditional main courses are hangikjöt, hamborgarhryggur (salted pork rib) and various types of game, especially Ptarmiganstew, Puffin(sometimes lightly smoked) and roast Greylag Goosewhere these are available. These are usually accompanied by a béchamelor mushroom sauce, boiled potatoes and peas, pickled beetrootor red cabbageand jam. A traditional dessertis rice puddingwith raisins, topped with ground cinnamonand sugarcalled "jólagrautur" ("Yule pudding").
December 23(mass of Saint Thorlak) there is a tradition (originally from the Westfjords) to serve fermented skatewith melted tallowand boiled potatoes. Boiling the Christmas hangikjöt the day after serving the skate is said to dispel the strong smell which otherwise tends to linger around the house for days.
In the weeks before Christmas many households bake a variety of
cookies to keep in store for friends and family throughout the holidays. These include "piparkökur", a type of ginger biscuitsoften decorated with colored glaze. Laufabrauðis also fried some days before Christmas and decorating it is for many an occasion for holding a family gathering.
The concept of "Þorramatur" was invented by a restaurant in Reykjavík in 1958 when they started advertising a platter with a selection of traditional country food linking it to the tradition of "
Þorrablót" popular since the late 1800s. The idea became very popular and for older generations the taste of the food will have brought back fond memories of growing up or spending summers in the countryside before WWIIand the urbanisation boom. In recent years, however, "þorramatur" has come to represent the supposed strangeness and peculiarity of traditional Icelandic food, and its very mention will send shivers down the spine of many modern Icelanders, overlooking the fact that many commonplace foods are also traditional though not generally thought of as part of the "þorramatur" category.
Birthdays, weddings, baptisms and confirmations
These are the various occasions for inviting the
extended familyto a lunchor " afternoon tea" called "kaffi" in Icelandic, as filter coffeeis usually served rather than tea. Traditional dishes include the kransakaka of Danish origin and various types of "brauðterta", similar to the Swedish smörgåstårtawith filling of e.g. shrimp, smoked salmonor hangikjötand liberal amounts of mayonnaisebetween layers of white bread. Also popular for large family gatherings are various types of sponge cake, topped with fresh or canned fruit, whipped cream, marzipanand meringue. This tradition is satirised in an often-quoted passage from Halldór Laxness's novel, "Under the Glacier", where the character Hnallþóra insists on serving multiple sorts of sumptuous cake for the bishop's emissary at all meals. Her name has become a byword for this type of cake.
There is a wide range of high quality restaurants in Iceland, serving specialities including freshly caught seafood, meat from naturally reared animals and prize game from the countryside.
* [http://icecook.blogspot.com/ Icelandic cooking, recipes and food culture] . En icon
* [http://www.matarsetur.is/ Matarsetur] , an Icelandic association dedicated to the history of Reykjavík cuisine. Is icon
* [http://www.landbunadur.is/landbunadur/wgbi.nsf/key2/shoppersenska The Shopper´s Guide to Icelandic food] , an informative summary provided by the Farmers Association of Iceland. En icon
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