On a recent trip to Iceland, I was astounded and amazed by not only the landscape (lava and ash-studded glaciers, over top of volcanoes, right next door to green fields and breathtaking waterfalls), but also by the food culture that this little country enjoys.
First off, many foods that are eaten are locally farmed – not an easy feat for such a northerly climate. Iceland’s solution is rather ingenious – the country is packed with greenhouses, heated using the geothermal (volcanic) heat that lies just under the surface of the ground. Cool. (or hot, as it were)
Root vegetable salads abounded – freshly shredded celery root salad was my favorite – also beet salads, and greens of all varieties.
The other theme of the Icelandic diet is the enjoyment of food that is rich in protein. Locally caught salmon abounded at every meal – smoked salmon at breakfast, gravad laks (cured salmon with mustard dill sauce, an inheritance from Iceland’s historical ties with Denmark), and salmon options on pretty much every dinner menu.
But my very favorite source of protein in the Icelandic diet was skyr – a form of Icelandic yogurt that is super high in protein (even surpassing most brands of greek yogurt). A 65 calorie serving of skyr is packed with no less than 10 grams of protein. Many grocery stores have ‘Skyr Bars’ where you can choose your favorite skyr flavor, and then top it with fresh fruit or fiber-rich cereals.
And if you want to buy it to eat later, there is no shortage of selections in the regular fridge section.
So the natural next question – where can I get skyr at home?! While it is available in some countries (I have encountered it in Denmark before), it is hard to find on the other side of the Pond. There are a few cities in Canada that have a few places that sell it, but hopefully the trend will catch on and it will soon become mainstream!
Until then, as a country where there is no McDonald’s (you read that right) and where bottled water is frowned upon (why buy water when the tap water comes straight from glaciers?!), I for one hope to get back to Iceland for another visit someday – the nature, the delicious food, and – above all – the wonderful people, beckon!
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