Icelandic Culture
4 December 2017

Weird but delicious Icelandic Christmas food

This post made us very, very hungry. Christmas won’t be here just yet, but we’re going to find any excuse to feast on weird and not-so-weird food for all of December.

Hangikjöt – smoked lamb

You know, we didn’t even realize that people find hangikjöt an odd choice for Christmas dinner! We’re so used to it, and it’s really tasty! It’s best enjoyed with boiled potatoes in béchamel sauce, green beans from a can (yes, the Icelandic ORA brand), red cabbage or beetroot from a jar and of course, laufabrauð bread!

Icelandic christmas food - smoked lamb

Photo by Martin Sønderlev Christensen (Flickr: Hangikjöt) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Kæst skata – rotten fermented skate fish

rotten skate fish

Photo from Iceland Mag

You can sort Icelanders into two types of people. Those who love rotten skate and MUST have it the day before Christmas, and those who hate it with their dying breath and won’t leave the house because the smell of it is everywhere. So, this one is weird and ARGUABLY delicious. A fist fight almost broke out at the office between skate lovers and haters, so let’s just not talk about it again until next year. If you’re here on December 23rd, trust us, you´ll smell it.

 

Hreindýr – reindeer

In America, reindeers pull Santa’s sleigh. In Iceland, we eat them for Christmas dinner. Sorry, not sorry. Of course, not everyone eats reindeer, but it’s among the more popular game eaten in Iceland, along with grouse, if you can call that game. Our Nordic neighbors probably don’t think reindeer is weird food, but some other nations might.

Icelandic christmas food - reindeer

Photo by Momo

Síld - Pickled herring

If you’ve been to a jólahlaðborð (Christmas buffet feast, usually enjoyed at a restaurant along with drunk coworkers) in Iceland, you’ve seen síld among other starters like smoked salmon and seafood mousse. There are usually 3-4 versions of it in different marinades. The most popular marinade is probably onion but closely followed by curry and beet. 

icelandic christmas food - herring