Shit ya.....that's right kids, you might not know it, but today is Þorrablot here in Iceland. Seeing that I had no idea what it was until I came here, let me paint a little picture for everyone back home.
Þorri is one of the old Icelandic months. It always begins on a Friday, between the 19th and the 25th of January, and ends on a Saturday between the 18th and 24th of February. The tradition of a Þorri feast is an ancient one. It has its roots in old midwinter feasts, Þorrablót, which the advent of Christianity could not quite abolish, although the way in which it is celebrated has changed.
Basically you drink a lot and eat some really REALLY weird stuff. Although I plan on taking many pictures, let's take a quick peek at some of the 'goodness' that awaits.
Hangikjöt - Literally "hung meat".
This usually refers to smoked lamb or mutton, although smoked horse-meat is also called hangikjöt. This is one of those courses that are eaten outside the Þorri season as well, and is really delicious. Many families serve hangikjöt for Christmas and is the dish for people that want to skip the other delicacies.
Svið - singed sheep's heads.
The name refers to the tradition of burning away all the hair from the head before cooking. This gives the meat a smoky flavour. The heads are cut in half lengthwise and the brains removed before cooking. Like hangikjöt, this is also quite a popular dish outside the Þorri season.
Sviðasulta - sheep's head jam.
This is quite good when pickled, and delicious fresh. It is made by cutting up the meat from cooked sheep's heads (svið), pressing into molds and cooling. The cooking liquid turns into jelly when cold, and keeps the whole thing together.
Lappir and/or Fótasulta - sheep's legs and sheep's leg jam.
This is a rare sight, both due to the effort it takes to produce the jam, and the fact that the slaughterhouses are required to throw the legs away.
- Hákarl – Fermented shark
The shark itself is poisonous when fresh due to a high content of uric acid, but may be consumed after being processed. It has a particular ammonia smell and is often served in cubes on toothpicks. Those new to it will usually gag involuntarily on the first attempt to eat it; it is usually best to block one's nose so as little of the ammonia as possible reaches one's nasal cavity. It is usually accompanied by a shot of the local fire water, Brennivin. To make Hákarl the traditional way, the shark is sectioned in pieces and then the meat is buried in gravel for 6 to 12 weeks depending on the season, and then hung in a drying shack for 2 to 4 months. The modern method is just to press the shark's meat in a large drained plastic container.
There is maybe six or seven other examples I could list, but do I really need to at this point? Apparently the easiest way to survive this feast is by drinking lots of Brennivin, although with a nickname like 'The Black Death' I'm not sure how good that will be either.
So cheers to me.......ehhhh, maybe. Watch for a review and pictures in the next few days - if I'm still alive.