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Icelandic Food Part Three Posted by on Jul 7, 2012 in Icelandic culture

Here is the third, and probably last, post on Icelandic food. The first post is here and the second is here.

This is “chocolate soup”, it doesn’t taste like plain chocolate though. They also have a variety of thin fruit soups in the same style, although I lost my photo of those. You put cold water in a pot, add the package contents, then heat it up while stirring. There are also actual recipes you can try in case you don’t want to (or can’t) buy the packet mixes.

I had an elderly landlady and both her and her sister would fry fish in butter. Then they would leave the scales in the pan after they were done eating, add water to it, boil the water with the fish scales, add some seasoning, and then drink the mixture. I haven’t heard of anyone else doing this, but those two were prone to eating a lot of traditional food and because they were a poor family with a fisherman for a father they also grew up eating almost entirely fish. They seemed to think it was an unusual thing to do.

Here you can see “cocktail sauce”, “hamburger sauce”, “pita bread sauce”, “remoulade sauce” and “vegetable sauce”. While Iceland has some unique sauces, I’ve actually only seen them inside products and not for sale by themselves. The sauces here are similar to the same sorts of sauces in Scandiavian countries, but they’re very different from the American ones in my opinion (or their usages are different).

This is an Icelandic cereal called Byggi. It’s cinnamon flavoured, but like most Icelandic food it’s actually very bland even though it’s supposedly flavoured. Despite having cinnamon it doesn’t taste of sugar, so it’s nothing like the American, sweetened cinnamon-sugar cereals I expected. The shininess in the photo is honey that I put on top.

Popcorn salt (flavouring) and “movie popcorn oil”. When making popcorn on the stove, you heat the kernels in the popcorn oil and then you add the popcorn flavouring. Personally I didn’t taste a difference with the oil but the flavouring does make it taste just like movie theater popcorn. I haven’t heard of these being sold anywhere else outside of Iceland like this, or at least not readily-available, but they can be found in Hagkaup and 10-11 (a more expensive grocery store and a convenience store). As a side note, Iceland also seems to sell a lot of pre-popped popcorn in bags and people eat it at room temperature, and I’ve also gotten lukewarm popcorn at movie theaters.

This is a candy bar called “Lakkrís Dúndur Bitar”. Inside is a stick of black liquorice (which tastes very different from American liquorice) and it’s covered in puffed rice and chocolate. Most Icelandic candy is a mix of black liquorice, chocolate, and marzipan. Icelandic liquorice tastes a bit different from the other Nordic countries’ liquorice that I’ve had, but they sell imported types too.

This is the menu of the mini-restaurant at BSÍ, the long-distance bus station in Reykjavik. You can see hamburgers, fish, lamb, beef, hotdogs, and sheep’s head on the photos, and you can read the rest of the menu below. Sorry, I don’t have a photo that’s easier to read.

Here you can see lobster soup stock, fishballs, smoked Icelandic herring, and a package of mixed seafood. The only thing unique to Iceland here are the fishballs, which can only be said to be unique due to the recipe and perhaps the preparation style.

Here you can see the inside of the fishballs. The exact contents, shape, and size can vary between brands and recipes, but usually people fry or boil them to heat them up.

At the top is flatbread and “kleina” (plural “kleinur”), something like a plain, twisted doughnut. Kleinur are prized pastries of Iceland, people will always tell you to try them and they’re even offered on IcelandAir’s flights, but they really don’t taste like much of anything. In the middle shelf is some rye bread, and below that some cinnamon buns and more kleinur. You can buy bread made from differing mixes of flour types, such as a mix of rye and wheat flour in one bag.

Even if the food itself isn’t unique to Iceland, I think there are some flavouring combinations that are. You can see this most clearly in skyr and cheese, as dairy products are usually Icelandic, but sometimes it pops up in pre-seasoned foods, sauces, and recipes. Iceland has a small selection of spices and flavours that it re-uses a lot, such as salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and paprika. They further get put into certain common combination, such as a white “hvítlauksósa – garlic sauce” which is said to be good on meat and fish. Another common one seems to be a yellow-orange blend of non-spicy ingredients and called “Mexican”, such as Mexican-cheese and Mexican-sauce.

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About the Author:sequoia

I try to write about two-thirds of the blog topics on cultural aspects and one-third on the language, because there's much more out there already on the language compared to daily life information. I try to stay away from touristy things because there's more of that out there than anything else on Iceland, and I feel like talking about that stuff gives you the wrong impression of Iceland.


  1. Verónkia:

    I am so hungry now. 🙂

    • sequoia:

      @Verónkia Me too… some dried fish would be good to have right now!