Iceland’s Cuisine is World Apart in the Frigid North

A culinary excursion in Iceland is unique, leading diners to try unusual foods like sheep’s head, minke whale and puffin. The food reflects the connection Icelanders have with the sea and land.
By John Jacobs

Ask random people what they know about Iceland, and the typical answers will be “it’s frigid” and “there are invisible elves.” The country remains an enigma to most because of its relative isolation in the North Atlantic Ocean and an unforgiving climate that, up till recently, discouraged tourists except for the hardiest. Harsh winters and isolated living conditions meant Icelanders had to eat what was available and develop food preservation methods that enabled them to make it through long, cold winters. Today, the food heritage is a fascinating mix of unusual foods prepared and cooked in ways that reflect a history of hardy survival like sheep's head, fermented shark (Hákarl), and skyr.

The traditional foods of Iceland are interesting, oft...

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