Food in Iceland is (often) Suitable for Human Consumption
Don't believe the stories. If you think all food in Iceland is dried, soured, pickled in whey or putrefied, guess again. We actually have great restaurants and a great food here all year round.
Ah, here we go. Icelandic food. That old chestnut (or is it a ram's testicle?). If you want weird, we got weird. But don't be fooled into thinking we don't also have delicious!
The world has become increasingly familiar with Þorramatur, our ‘prized traditional foods', including delights such as putrefied shark, soured ram's testicles, seal flippers, and sheep face jelly; and there is a lot more on that in our Þorrablót article. But when delighting in scaring tourists with horrible food, what most Icelanders neglect to mention is that half of us can't stand it either and never actually eat it. And half of the other half only ever eat it once a year at special banquets put on to commemorate the fact that people actually used to eat this stuff!
So what do people actually eat?
Well, the first things that come to mind are actually pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream and mountains and mountains of candy – especially on Saturdays when candy is half-price. Oh, and let's not forget the insane level of barbecuing that happens in the summer half of the year whenever the temperature tops ten degrees (or even seven, at a push).
But look a little deeper and you'll see that lamb, fish and dairy still play key roles; conspicuously backed up by game, breads, pastries, cakes, vegetables, and even horse meat.
Things to try when on holiday in Iceland include plokkfiskur, a creamy fish stew with rye bread; kjötsúpa, a delicious lamb and vegetable based soup; the infamously good lobster soup; skyr, the fat-free yogurt type stuff which tastes like heaven; traditionally prepared sea bird, like guillemot; rice pudding served with milk, cinnamon sugar and liver sausage; and of course the hot dogs, which are partly lamb and served with fresh onion, crispy onion, ketchup, mustard and remoulade – and sometimes also potato salad.
The bottom line...
Don't be afraid and enter with an open mind. You especially won't regret this in the unparalleled wonderland that is an Icelandic bakery! But if you are a little fussy in the food department, you shouldn't have any difficulty sticking to your normal diet – whatever that may be.
Restaurants and supermarkets have all the basics and more, right across the country – although you won't be surprised to hear that the bigger the town, the bigger the selection on offer. And to clarify, in Iceland a ‘Big Town' means roughly a thousand people or more. Countryside hotels are an obvious, brightly-shining exception to this rule.
An international-nervous-tourist-diet of nacho chips, white bread, pre-sliced rubbery cheese and strawberry yogurt is definitely off the menu.