The worst smelling Fish and the greatest Hot Dog in the world
Iceland: who doesn't think of exotic and delicious food when hearing that countries name? Well, probably 99 percent of the world's population that is not Icelandic. And who could blame them? Iceland is pretty far removed from the rest of the world, geographically speaking, and unless you have an interest for Scandinavia or Vikings, it doesn't usually appear very high on the "to-go"-list of many tourists. Which is a shame really (not so much for the Icelanders as for the tourists).
Then, on a culinary level, there is the Scandinavian's penchant for eaten fermented fish on occasions. That's a polite term for "spoiled" or "rotten". Anybody who has ever tried or tried to eat such national dishes as Sweden's Surstömming or Lutefisk in Norway can attest to that. Generally, when asking the locals why they would eat it, they'll apologetically speak about "traditions" and that the forefathers were poor whether the explanation is satisfactory in the 21st century, I'll leave to the reader to decide. Never-the-less, Andrew Zimmern wouldn't be Andrew Zimmern if he hadn't found a place that can top this odorous abominations, namely in the form of Hakarl, one of the national dishes in Iceland. Hakarl is nothing but the flesh of the Greenland shark, an animal which is poisonous when eaten fresh. After (what I must presume generations of fatal trial & error) this meat is fermented and dry-hung for roughly half a year, the poison disappears, but the odour, which can only be described as "smell of death" remains. Let's put it that way: a rotten piece of Limburger cheese, possibly left under the sun to become rank, smells like a bouquet of roses in direct comparison. It is recommended that you enjoy his culinary abomination with a shot of Brennivin ("Black Death"; an indigenous form of Schnapps) in order to wash that taste of ammonia from your mouth.
Be that as it may, some Icelanders like that food, and "bizarrely" enough, so does chef Zimmern, who describes the taste as "sweet and nutty", only adding to the respect that this culinary Indiana Jones reserves. (As for my personal experience, after I spat out the first bite of Hakarl I ever had, for the first and final time in my life, welcomed the taste of bile in my mouth).
But not everything on Iceland smells as if a dying fish had crawled under your veranda. We're introduced to Slatur, a local form of blood-pudding with raisins (which sounds much worse than it tastes), minke whale (for reasons that can be imagined, this scene was absent from the TV-version) and puffins (a parrot-like bird, caught by the coast). Next, seemingly ironic at first, Zimmern takes us to eat one of the most iconic Icelandic foods: hot dogs at the Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, a stand that has been frequented by about 70 percent of the population (well, which counts only 300,000 altogether). And yes: it will make you want to dump that ordinary hot dog you might enjoy on any given street-corner. The episode is rounded off with a mouth-watering visit at the restaurant of chef Siggi Hall, a world-class cook (and the thought of the prices on his menu would probably have pushed the rating of this episode to PG-R).
As a bonus, the camera catches some of the magnificent scenery of Iceland, which reminds of that old Icelandic saying, that, when naming Greenland "Greenland" and Iceland "Iceland", they got mixed up with the name.
All in all, another classic among the "Bizarre Foods"-episodes, well worth a 8/10 and probably making more than one viewer think, that visiting this remote place during holidays may not be such a bad idea.
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