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Information about the cuisine of Iceland

Iceland is an island in the North Atlantic, situated between Europe and North America. It is the smallest of the Scandinavian countries. The total population was in the beginning of 2008 about 300.000.

Obviously, the Icelandic cuisine is affected by the islands location. Fish and seafood it's the main staples together with mutton and dairy. Haddock, plaice, halibut, herring, lobster, ocean perch, trout, cod and shrimp is some of the treasures the surrounding waters has to offer, and they are caught fresh, most of them all year round. The fish is then for instance baked, pickled, salted, smoked, made into various stews and more recently; made into sushi.

This explains why one of the largest Icelandic exports is, not surprisingly, the country's fish industry's; smoked salmon, caviar, cured salmon and pickled herring is sold worldwide and is regarded a delicacy.

As well as the fish, Icelanders enjoys its meat. 'Lambakjot' or lambs meat is popular and is like the fish recognized around the world as a delicacy. The Icelandic lamb has a distinctively wild taste, mainly because the sheep ranges freely in the mountains. Local meat-dishes include 'hangikjot', which means smoked lamb. You might also find lamb testicles, 'lundabaggar' which is sour lamb, sheep head or 'svið', salted and dried lamb as well as of course beef. Common is also different wild birds, chicken, duck, turkey and sometimes also horse meat, seal, reindeer and goose.

Even though Iceland is close to the Arctic Circle, vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, and cabbage are common and grown outside. Other vegetables and fruits are often grown inside green-houses, sometimes even at the warm volcanic slopes.

Icelandic traditional food, or þorramatur, might not be as popular as it has in the past but still has a special place in the local cuisine. It includes for instance 'kleinur' which is Icelandic donuts, rye pancakes, 'selshreyfar' or sour seal flippers, dried fish and pickled salmon.

'Slatur' is an Icelandic dish similar to haggis and of course there is the famous 'hákarl'. Hákarl is rotten shark meat and is both feared and loved. Together with the hákarl, you might enjoy a shot of brennivín or 'black death', which is the local schnapps. Skyr, an Icelandic curd, is often mixed with cream and served with for instance wild berries. Laufabrauð is deep fried Icelandic thin-bread.

The modern Icelandic kitchen is still mostly based on local ingredients. Lamb and seafood blended together with new and exotic influences creates a modern and interesting cuisine. The often hearty and rustic dishes has to some extent been replaced by for instance pasta, fresh vegetables, fruits, vegetarian food, and of course dishes like pizza, hamburgers and other global foods, as is the case in the rest of the Scandinavian countries.