What the smell?
The Thorri (Þorri) is once again upon us here in Iceland, a stinky season accompanied by weird days like Husband’s Day and Thorri’s Slave. Keep reading, it gets weirder. Thorri (a name most likely derived from Thor, the God of Thunder!) is the fourth month of winter in the old Icelandic calendar. It begins on the third Friday in January, which is traditionally celebrated as Husband’s Day and falls on January 19th this year. Husbands get special treatment on this day, usually in the form of craft beer or fancy ties but what ensues for the rest of Thorri is more eccentric, to say the least.
Icelanders celebrate good old Thorri with buffets of traditional Icelandic food. If you’ve heard rumors about the horrors of old-school Icelandic cuisine, they’re probably all true and these buffets are our annual proof. They include some truly awful dishes that only the oldest generations and hipster patriots who walk among us will claim to love, but in truth, most of us just love to taste them once a year for sport and a sense of atmospheric duty. While these dishes are not all made equally terrible you might want a little guidance to navigate through these monstrosities should you ever find yourself at an Icelandic Thorri-themed buffet.
Now as with cilantro, people are of two minds as to what constitutes as tasty here. There are those who prefer singed sheep head to dried fish and don’t mind making eye contact with their meal. Others might retch at the thought of ram testicles in the vicinity of their plate, but don’t hate the thought of giving a seal’s flipper a high-five before devouring it. So it goes and each to their own... What follows is a list of the usual suspects at the notorious Thorri-buffet and tips based on the personal taste of the author:
Stack up on dried fish with real Icelandic butter (50/50), mashed or boiled potato, laufabrauð (thin crispy fried bread), rye bread, flatkökur (thin, soft unleavened bread), smoked lamb, boiled salt-meat, peas, salad with cream and fruit, blood sausage and liver sausage.
For novelty purposes and Instagram-fame try the singed and boiled sheep head, sviðasulta (sheep face jelly), sour liver sausage, sour blood sausage, sour sheep face jelly, putrefied shark, and putrefied skate.
Keep at least 5 feet between you and sour sheep testicles (formed into a sliceable ‘loaf’), sour seal flipper, sour minke whale blubber, whole boiled sheep foot and putrefied seabird eggs. It should be pointed out that the final four items on the list are increasingly rare and some of them, regional.
If you really want to dig deep and get into the mindset of (9th century) Icelanders, by all means, check out these Thorri buffets (Þorrablót in Icelandic). If not, take the easy route and make yourself a starter plate with smoked lamb, flatbread, laufabrauð, mashed rutabagas, dried fish with Icelandic butter and wash it down with some delicious Malt or beer. If this blog got the best of you and you just want to forget you ever read this, just find the next Dominos and celebrate Thorri like a normal person. No judgment!