Icelandic cuisine

Iceland had been at the top of my ‘places to visit’ list for a while, until I made the spontaneous decision to go with a friend last September.

The Blue Lagoon

The famous “Blue Lagoon” geothermal spa.

The plan was to spend 2 weekends in the capital, Reykjavik, with the days in between travelling the country by car. As expected, the scenery was breathtaking, like another planet; within minutes in the car, the landscapes would change from green rolling hills with sheep and cattle, to endless black sand beaches, to fields of boiling mud pits, to dramatic glaciers, to rocky lunar plains.


The boiling mud pits of Hverir.

The goal of the trip was to experience as much of this spectacular scenery as we could, and it turned out to be one of the highlights of my time in Europe.

One thing we didn’t expect, however, was much from the cuisine – it certainly wasn’t a reason for our visit.

It turns out we were pleasantly surprised. Icelandic cuisine is very simple in many ways, but almost every meal we had was really enjoyable.

Seafood makes up a large part of the diet in Iceland, like in other parts of the Nordic region, with fresh fish being eaten all year round. The most common seafood eaten is salmon, herring, haddock and shrimp.

Icelandic Salmon

A simple Icelandic salmon dish with roasted potatoes, onions, red peppers, tartar sauce and lemon.

Iceland is also very famous for its lamb, and we found most of the lamb dishes to be a real treat.

Icelandic Lamb

This grilled marinated lamb dish with garlic, herbs and spices was particularly memorable!

The most common vegetables in the Icelandic diet are potatoes, cabbage and turnip. Most often the vegetables are boiled in a simple fashion and served with a main of seafood or meat.

We also came across a couple of other interesting treats we hadn’t seen elsewhere, such as black lava salt – sea salt that has been mixed with activated charcoal, which is known for its detoxifying effects and aid with digestion. While at first we felt it was a little gimmicky, it did have a distinct taste, and a pretty unique appearance!

Black Lava Salt

Black lava salt is seen across Iceland.

Icelandic cuisine is very simple, with most dishes focusing on very natural flavours, but I think it’s fair to say this should be one more reason for your visit to Iceland.

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