15 February 2010

They eat what?

TripAdvisor's top two restaurants in Paris are Guy Savoy and Taillevant. French food. TripAdvisor's top two restaurants in Barcelona are Con Gracia and Montiel. Spanish Food. TripAdvisor's top two restaurants in Vienna are Immervoll and Purstner. Austrian food.

It's an obvious and logical pattern, and it says something fairly profound about Icelandic cuisine that TripAdvisor's top two restaurants in Reykjavík are Indian Mango and Cafe Haiti.

Iceland is famous for the sort of dishes that travelers eat strictly for bragging rights. Hákarl, the fermented, decayed flesh of the otherwise poisonous Greenland shark, smells so strongly of death and windex that Anthony Bourdain called it the most disgusting thing he'd ever eaten. Round the menu out with singed sheep heads, boiled ram testicles, and liver-suet pudding.

Eager to embrace at least one traditional Icelandic edible before our trip, I picked up three little cups of Siggi's Skyr at my local grocery store.

Skyr is made from skim milk, and then strained until it's very thick. We love greek yogurt and routinely strain our own homemade yogurt at home, but skyr is... different. Odd. It's so dense and sticky that it's downright unpleasant. I watched my little son thrust his tongue repeatedly against the roof of his mouth like a dog trying to make sense of peanut butter. He put in a valiant effort, but he only got a couple of ounces down before he declared skyr gross.

"When in Rome" we'll eat as the Romans eat, because the Romans eat Italian food instead of Hákarl. When in Reykjavík, we'll eat wood fired pizza and lamb tikka masala.

No comments: