On a recent trip to Iceland I became enamoured with Icelandic cuisine. What’s not to love? It’s traditional, it’s hearty, and it chased a penetrating cold and damp from my bones.
Iceland isn’t the warmest of vacation destinations. Even in summer high temperatures hover around 13 degrees Celsius but when it rains, as it often does along the south coast, the chill can easily breach your buffer of warm clothing. My solution: Icelandic fish stew (plokk-fish).
My first taste of fish stew was well-earned. I had spent some time on the slopes of Laugarfjall hill in a steady drizzle, watching Geysir erupt, and I was cold. Tasting the fish stew in the Geysir Visitor’s Centre restaurant felt like wrapping myself in a thick, warm blanket. I wondered if it was possible to re-create the same feeling at home.
I would find help a short drive away in the town of Laugarvatn. We stopped at a combined handicraft shop, café, and bed and breakfast called Galleri, and beside a much-needed espresso and chocolate chip cookie, I unearthed a book called Treasured and Delicious Icelandic Recipes. And there on page three, opposite a 1930s picture of a woman milking a cow, was a recipe for my newly beloved fish stew.
Treasured and Delicious Icelandic Recipes begins by introducing the influences of Icelandic cuisine – the isolation and rugged climate of the country forced Icelanders to live off the land and sea and some recipes are unchanged from those times of hardship.
Several weeks later when a strong wind battered rain against my window at home, I opened the book thinking, “There is no time more fitting to make fish stew than now.” I closed my eyes and once again conjured up the damp cold I felt standing on the slopes of Laugarfjall hill.
Those memories inspired me because it was not long after, with the addition of butter, onions, flour, milk, salt, white pepper, boiled fish, boiled potatoes, and a few shakes of my wooden spoon, that I had two steaming bowls on the dinner table and warmth enveloping me from head to toe.
There are 17 recipes in this book – soups, breads, main courses, desserts, and each accompanied by an early 1900s black and white photo depicting traditional Icelandic life. The recipes are not complicated – this is simple, straightforward fare – and I was surprised how my fish stew could be that tasty with so relatively few ingredients.
Treasured and Delicious Icelandic Recipes is one book that has me looking forward to the cold months of winter.
Title: Treasured and Delicious Icelandic Recipes
Edited by: Guðleif Fríður Sigurjónsdóttir Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Languages: English, German, Danish, and Icelandic