Traditional Foods and Beverages of Iceland Essay
Traditional Foods and Beverages of Iceland
Food is an important part of culture (Food and Culture Resources, 2007) and all most all the nations of the world have some traditional dishes with unique cooking method and taste. There is an increasing awareness about the traditional food among the people and different nations use variety of cooking methods, different herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables in their food to make it healthier and nutritious as well as notable expression of their culture. Just like other nations of the world, Icelanders are also concerned about their traditional food. Food is the most important industry of Iceland (Food and Culture Resources, 2007).
The land of Iceland is blessed with environmental purity and the main livelihood of the Icelandic people had always been as a food producing nation for many years (Iceland export directory, 2004). In the country there is an adequate system of supply of raw materials to the food processing industries where high standards are followed to keep the food at superior natural quality (Iceland export directory, 2004). Iceland is not fulfilling the food requirements of the local inhabitants but it is also meeting the consumer demands in the international market.
The food industry is making half of the country’s industrial production and one fifth of the GDP growth is also bases on food industry. The people of Iceland give lot of importance to their traditions in their cuisine. Traditional foods of Iceland are promoted in their festivals and different occasions. The national dish of Iceland is “? orramatur” which is mostly consumed in the months of January and February. This unique dish is made with huge verity of ingredients like rotten shark, dried fish, ram’s testicles and fried sheep heads etc. (Food and Culture Resources, 2007).
Icelanders consumer this dish very often and give very much importance to it. The national drink of the country is Brennivin which is quite similar to the brandy. The Icelanders use to take it straight with out adding anything in to it and they prefer it in chilled form (Food and Culture Resources, 2007). The Icelanders love rich taste of food and they enjoy verity of seasoning, cheese, sauces, and sausages in their dishes. They like dairy products, dry fruits and fresh fruits and sweet dishes however the central point of the Icelandic cuisine is the sea food.
The Icelandic fish is famous all around the world for its great taste. Uniqueness of Icelandic Food The cooking techniques and cooking equipments of the Icelanders are not very different from that of other nations but there are two main reasons that make the Icelandic foods unique from other cuisines. First of all, the Icelandic people use such a vast variety of sea food (Food and Culture Resources, 2007) in their traditional dishes which is quite uncommon in the traditions of other countries.
Though other nations also give considerable importance to sea food in their cuisines but because Iceland is capable of capturing lot of sea food from sea due to its location, the use of sea food increases in their cuisine and they also use much sea food to keep them selves warm in the winter season which stayed for long time in Iceland (Food and Culture Resources, 2007). Another thing that makes the Icelandic food different from other is that, the Icelandic people used to burry their meat in ground (Food and Culture Resources, 2007) or they let it dry in some special place for long time period and then cook it.
This technique adds unique taste to their dishes and makes them different from the other dishes. The Icelandic food is not only rich in taste but also very healthy and nutritious because of its ingredients (Food and Culture Resources, 2007). Main Ingredients of Icelandic Food The country is island bases so naturally there is great consumption of sea food. The quality of Icelandic fish is recognized world wide. Though the people are also consuming vegetable and pasta dishes but the traditional food of Iceland mostly consists of Lambs, fishes, Lobsters and other sea food.
The foods of Iceland are considered of great nutritious value because they use very unique and wholesome ingredients. Most of the traditional dishes of the Iceland are made up from the sea food including lobster, ocean Perch, and fishes like Trout, Cod, Haddock, Herring and salmon. The traditional fish dishes of Iceland are prepared in many ways. Icelanders mostly prepared the fish with garlic either it is dried, smoked, salted or baked fish (Food and Culture Resources, 2007). Along with the sea food, dishes made up from Lamb are also very popular in the Iceland.
The preparation of the lamb dishes is also very interesting and unique for the foreign people. These dishes are mostly served with mustard sauce. Game meat is also consumed in Iceland and some traditional dishes also made up of the game meat. Icelanders don’t like to eat meat of different birds. Poultry is present in the country just to supply eggs to the people other wise the Icelanders have many objections with consumption of birds from the very beginning of their livelihood. However eggs are important part of their food. They often use eggs with smoked mutton and also for baking purpose.
Icelanders blend the eggs with sugar and cream to make a special creamy soup with the help of eggs. Icelanders also don’t like to consumer beef in their traditional dishes. Cattle are kept in the county mainly to obtain dairy products from them. Icelanders often use the meat of pigs because it is very expensive and rare in the country. Horsemeat is commonly used in the Icelandic dishes. Other important ingredient of Icelandic food is cheese and other dairy products. The dairy products are an important part of Icelanders food cuisine.
There are more then 80 types of cheese (Iceland export directory, 2004) that are produced in the country. Milk and cheese are main ingredients of many traditional dishes of Iceland. People of Iceland used to take a glass of fresh milk with their meals. It is also a tradition to consumer dried pureed fruits and milk based soup with the meals. Fresh cream and fresh unsalted butter are also frequently used in the traditional Icelandic food. Canned vegetables are also becoming important ingredient of Icelandic dishes however traditionally potatoes are used very much by the Icelanders often on daily basis.
Icelandic Taste Buds The Icelandic people like rich taste of the food. Icelanders use to consumer each and every thing in their dishes that can add taste to their dishes. Different spices and sauces are used with and within the Icelandic dishes. They add cheese, dry fruits, creams and sugar to make their food more tasty and rich. Icelanders are not worried about the calories and cholesterol presence in their dishes they just give main emphasis to the taste and enjoy it very much (Iceland export directory, 2004). Icelandic Traditional Dishes
There are many traditional Icelandic dishes in Iceland that are commonly consumed by the people of Iceland and also presented to the tourist coming to the country. The national dish of Iceland is “? orramatur” which is mostly consumed in the months of January and February. This unique dish is made with huge verity of ingredients like rotten shark, dried fish, ram’s testicles and fried sheep heads etc. (Food and Culture Resources, 2007). “Svid” is also a traditional dish of Iceland which is often taken in the Sunday dinners of the Icelanders. The preparation and ingredients of this dish are very uncommon.
It is prepared with the headcheese that is meat from the lamb’s heads jelled in its own aspic or it consists of smoked or fresh whole lambs heads served boiled (Food and Culture Resources, 2007). Another unique traditional food product of the Iceland is Icelandic fish cake which is known as “fiskibollur”. This cake is made up of minced fish, eggs and seasonings. Another traditional dish is the “Hardfiskur” which consists of wine-dried fish, usually haddock. This dish is prepared in unique way. The fish is not cooked at all but it is just pounded until the time it became a soft crumbly texture.
This mixture is dipped in to butter and then it is eaten with the fingers. This dish is consumers both as meal and as a snack. This is a favorite Icelandic dish for hundreds of years (Jo, 2000). “Hakarl” is another traditional dish. It is made up of cures shark meat which is cut in to strips and then placed in the clean gravel beds for long time period. After several weeks it is washed and soaked and often washed with brandy to enhance the taste. A traditional and dairy product based dish of Iceland is “skyr” which is made up of from pasteurized skim milk fermented with rennin (Food and Culture Resources, 2007).
This dish is used as snack as well as a dessert in Iceland. A traditional and nutritious Icelandic soup is ““Kjotsupa” which is made from lambs. This soup is a part of Icelandic cuisine for hundreds of years. The people of Icelandic like this soup very much even today and they also offer this dish to the visitors as their special traditional dish (baltfoodies, 2006). Some other traditional Icelandic dishes for dinner are mountain lamb and “hangikjot” which means smoked lamb. “Hrutspunga” is a dish which consists of pressed sheep’s testicles of sheep (Jo, 2000).
“Hvalspik” are the whale blubbers which are used to be hard but these are made soft by pickling. “Lundabaggar” is another traditional food which is made from sliced and boiled meat. This dish contains high fats. “Bringukollar” is made from the meat of breast part of lamb or any other animal. The breast pieces are cut and boil then it is set for pickling (Jo, 2000). “Selshreifar” are the seal’s flippers. This is a traditional Icelandic dish but not eaten very commonly. Whenever any family or person hunts a seal themselves, then the family enjoys this dish. “Hangikjot” is prepared with the smoked lamb or mutton.
This dish is traditionally served at many occasions like Christmas etc (Jo, 2000). Dry and fresh fruits are also used in the traditional desserts of the Iceland. Ingredients like wild berries, rhubarb, raisins, prunes, and apricots are preserved with sugar to make a sugar fruit soup. This soup is served with cream or milk and it is very popular dessert of Iceland. In this dish dry fruits are used more then the fresh fruits. Most of the traditional Icelandic food is full of fats as they like the rich taste in their meals. They also like sweetness and sugar is commonly used in many of their daily dishes.
Lamb is also an important ingredient of Icelandic traditional food. Dishes are used with meat of lamb in fresh cuts, spiced, smoked or salted. The lamb meat is usually served with different types of sausages. The meat of lamb is also used to make the friend patties in which meat is used in pasted form along with the potato flour. Traditional Dishes for Different Occasions Food is an important part of enjoying any occasion or special moment. Icelanders aslo enjoy different traditional food to celebrate different occasions and they have special traditional dishes for different occasions.
The traditional dish for the Christmas is “Smoked Salty Mutton”, which is served with a special sausage that is made from salted sheep’s blood. Barley or floor is used to thicken the sausage and it is boiled in the cleaned sheep intestines. It is a very old traditional recipe of Icelanders. Icelanders also take a very old traditional Scandinavian beverage for the Christmas. It is known as “Jolaglogg” (Jo, 2000). Icelanders used to take this warm traditional winter drink mostly at work. Usually they use to drink “Jolaglogg” on the last working day before the holidays of Christmas.
It is a hot spiced drink made up from red wine, spices with equal parts of wine and vodka. (Jo, 2000) Many traditional dishes are associated with Easter in Iceland. Earlier the Icelanders used to serve a kind of porridge on the Easter Sunday. The porridge was made from barley and use to be thicker and richer then the regular porridge (Jo, 2000). The Icelanders made this change in consistence of porridge to relate it with the holiness of Easter. In olden times the porridge was served only on Sunday Easter but during the 18th and 19th century Icelanders started to take this porridge on Monday and Thursday also.
They consider it as a special traditional treat. In order to make the dish more special and luxurious rice are used in place of barley. This dish is associated with the rich people from beginning (Jo, 2000). Another Icelandic traditional food for Easter is also to eat Easter Eggs which are made up from chocolate and are filled with candies. Another traditional dish for Easter meals is made up from Pork which is cooked in red wine and then sauces, brawn sugar, mustard and ketchup (Jo, 2000) are used to add more taste to it. This dish is served with the pineapple rings, salad and wine sauce.
An important occasion for Icelanders is to remember the death of a 12th century Icelandic bishop ? orlakur (Jo, 2000). They observe occassion of ? orlaksmessa twice in the year. For this occassion also they have some raditional food to consume. Centuries ago the icelanders used to take fresh fish (Jo, 2000) on these days later on it become icelandic tradition to take stakes on these events. ?orri and Feast for ? orri Icelanders celebrate ? orri – an Old Icelandic month on a Friday that comes between 19th to 25th January (Jo, 2000).
The celebration continues until the Saturday that comes between 18th to 24th February. It is tradition of Icelanders to arrange special feast on this occasion. Special crockery is used to serve the food on this occasion that includes deep wooden trays, traditional sharp knife and the diner’s bare hands (Jo, 2000). Many dishes and beverages are connected with this occasion. It is very important for the Icelanders to have a special feast of the ? orri. The traditional appetizers for this event include “Shark” which is served in small cubes (Jo, 2000).
The meat of shark is buried in ground many weeks before the occasion. Later on the meat is taken out and then hanged so that it becomes dry. Different parts of the shark meats are consumed by the Icelanders and they believe that it will be digestive for them to eat shark meat before the dinner (Jo, 2000). Some traditional dishes that are taken by the Icelanders on this occasion are “Kartoflustappa” which is made up from mashed potatoes, “Rofustappa” made from mashed rutabagas, “Flatbrau? ” which is a bread served with butter and “Rugbrau? ” which is a dark break served with butter (Jo, 2000).
Icelandic people’s Sweet Tooth Icelanders also like sweet dishes. They often use sugar in their day to day dishes also. The traditional sweet dishes are also made by preserving the dry fruits like raisins, prunes, and apricots in to heavy sugar syrup and then creams or milk is added in to it. Icelanders also prepare a dessert pudding in which they use the sugar and dry fruits then they add potato flour in to in for making the dessert thick. Dry fruits are more used in the Icelandic desserts as compared with the fresh fruits. Icelandic Beverages
Along with these traditional foods, some beverages are also consumed in the Iceland and become a part of their tradition. The national drink of Iceland is “Brennivin” which is very similar to the brandy. The people of Iceland prefer to chill it before drinking and they do not add any thing in to it but just take it direct. The Icelanders prefer to have strong alcoholic drinks. The most consumer beverages in Iceland are various types of vodka, Brennivin, beer and ale (Food and Culture Resources, 2007). People used to drink a bottle of alcoholic beverage in order to enjoy any occasion or good time.
There is also a trend to consumer a glass of fresh milk with every meal. However the people of Iceland enjoy strong coffee with cream and sugar very much. Icelanders like to have a hot drink “Sukkula? i” (Jo, 2000) to warm their cool days. This drink is made up from semi sweet chocolate. Another beverage which is traditionally taken at the Christmas is “Jolabland” which is also called Christmas cocktail. It is prepared by mixing different flavored drinks to enhance the taste. Usually orange flavored drink is mixed up with the brown ale and then cola is also mixed in it.
This drink is taken by the Icelandic people along with the Christmas meal (Jo, 2000). Icelandic people take “Ginger Milk” when ever they have some digestion problems. Ginger milk is not just a beverage but also a natural treatment for upset stomach. It is prepared with the ginger roots, milk and eggs. Sugar is also added to make it tasty. Some other traditional Icelandic beverages include “Mysa” (Jo, 2000) which was taken by the Icelanders before the arrival of carbonated beverages. However in modern times this drink is not commonly taken by the people of Iceland. Icelandic Cooking Equipments and Techniques
The cooking techniques like seasoning, baking, boiling, frying, grinding and salting are quite common in the traditional Icelandic cooking style (Food and Culture Resources, 2007). The cooking equipments are also not much different from the other part of the world. Icelanders use almost the same utensils, sauce pans and cooking equipments that are commonly used in the other countries. Icelandic dishes are often prepared with the help of seasonings. They use salt, pepper and onion to add taste in their dishes however most of the time they like the natural fresh or smoked taste of the dish. Icelandic don’t consumer much salt in their dishes.
It means that the Icelandic cooking style, cooking technique and cooking equipments are not very different from the other parts of the world but the ingredients used and burial of meat for long time period made the cuisine different from the other countries. Promotion of Tradition food The Icelandic people love tradition and they show it in their cuisines also. They also promote their traditional food very much through different festivals and events. These festivals are organized at different occasions and the Icelanders support their culture as well as their traditional food through the events.
An important event which is organized each year in the capital city Reykjavik is the “Food and Fun Festival” (Food and Culture Resources, 2007) that promotes the traditional dishes through different activities. Some other food festivals are also arranged in different places of the country where they create awareness among the other country’s people about their own traditional food and try to make it popular and appealing for different people and different nations of world (Iceland export directory, 2004).
This was the description of the Icelandic food and beverages. It can be observed that the sea food and dairy products are the main components of the Icelandic traditional food and they have large verity of cuisine to celebrate different occasions. The ingredients and meat treatment made the Icelandic traditions food different from the foods of other countries.
References baltfoodies. com. 2006 the fun and food trip of Iceland http://www.food-links.com/countries/.php