For years food was just survival for local people. But today, because the world is a much bigger place and tourism, has skyrocketed in the recent past – experiential, experimental and exquisite food has become a trademark in Iceland. And these guys don’t have to go anywhere for great produce – it’s either in their waters or in the open lands they own. From traditional food that will scare regular people to artisanal food that will bring the world to its feet, Iceland is literally a place you have to experiment when it comes to cuisine. Do not go there with a closed mind or in the hope to find food like home, because then you might just lose out on an experience that will turn you Icelandic.
The Passionate Capital
All the action happens in Reykjavik. It is amazing how a small city (in comparison to London or Paris) eats so well. The creativity that oozes out of every dish, restaurant, café, pub or eatery is mind-boggling. With many hearts to be satisfied (tourists), the food has soul here – it reminds you of a small person with an enormous soul. The burgers and hot dogs have a distinctive taste because of the meat. Deep fried onions, raw onions, sweet mustard – this is the perfect blend for the best hotdog and works after a night out. Wowza will be your exact reaction.
The Interesting South
With natural wonders out on display, the southeast serves as a pit-stop to many constantly hungry tourists. As geothermal energy is used well in this area – greenhouses grow a variety of fruit and vegetables. There are places that grow tomatoes all year round – which helps for greenhouse dinners that are exclusive and very experiential. Even though I’m not the greatest fan of tomatoes, the sheer quality of them indulges my senses for three-course meals. Imagine, starters and desserts having geothermal grown tomatoes and native herbs in local cocktails – it’s something that would lead to inspired cooking eventually (I’m giving you that benefit of the doubt).
The Inspiring East
I had heard about Haveri, a farm in the middle of god knows where (one of my European friends was raving about it when he was drunk and singing songs that I didn’t understand) – owned by these brilliant musicians. To firstly put into perspective, this isn’t a café/pub/place that looks too commercial – but the food is homegrown in every way – from vegan sausages to surprising chips, this mini music delight café is to die for. The food here calls vegans and meat eaters (beef), the main highlight being – the bounty is amazing and has an extremely homely taste to it.
The Indigenous North
I was fascinated to know that bread can be cooked in different ways. The speciality of the north is literally ‘geyser bread’ – and since I have a major weakness for bread, I couldn’t stop eating this with rural dishes. My major weakness was, this underground geothermal heat baked bread. When I say a geyser of emotions will overtake you, I mean literally and figuratively.
At no point did I even consider Iceland a place for foodies. This is not to say that there are somethings that I wouldn’t eat. But I know, when I go there again – I will be able to indulge in some innovative dishes. Thank you Icelandic food for clearing stereotypes.