Icelandic Hot Dogs and Other Notes

I took a few days off and went to Reykjavik, Iceland over the Memorial Day weekend with two friends. While claiming to be an emerging foodie destination, I have to say that in a county that is mostly covered in rocky lava fields and glaciers that must import most of its vegetables, Iceland is going to have a hard time molding itself to the foodie trend, especially the ever increasingly popular “locavore” movement. Needless to say, I skipped the tourist oriented (and cruel sounding, sorry Icelandic culture) whale and puffin menus and also skipped out on Hakarl, the national dish of fermented shark. However, there is one Icelandic delicacy I was not going to miss: the hot dog.

Enjoying the lamb dog!

Baejarins Beztu Pylsur is a hot dog stand in downtown Reykjavik that is rumored to be the best hot dog in all of Europe. First of all, the hot dogs themselves are made out of lamb, more plentiful in Iceland than beef. Second, they cover them in herbed mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, raw onions, and deliciously sweet and spicy crunchy friend onions. I would set up an import business for the onions alone. We followed the advice of the Lonely Planet guidebook and got our dogs “with everything.”

"With everything."

There’s often a line in front of the hot dog shack, made up of both Icelanders and tourists. As it was municipal election day while we were there the local news even came by the interview people about the election. We have no idea what they said, however. There are grooved holders to put your dogs in, but it’s easy enough to just down them in a few bites.

Election day at the hot dog stand.

Even our vegetarian travelmate didn’t miss out. She just asked for a hot dog “with everything, but not the dog.” It’s elicted a guffaw from an older Icelandic man behind her, remarking, “I’ve never seen that before.” The hot dog server was unfazed and simply said, smiling as he handed her a bun filled with crunchy onion goodness, “That’s what we call a vegetarian hot dog in Iceland.”

Vegetarian hot dog, Icelandic style.

Other foods I noticed at the flea market that I was too reluctant to try included gull eggs. It makes sense in a country where chickens, and the corn to feed them, must be imported.

Multicolored seabird eggs

I wish I could have brought back some of the delicious looking frozen fish, but I didn’t think it would keep too well in my carry-on. I did pick up a plastic baggie of salted, dried fish. According to the adorable old man who was selling it it can be eaten plain as a snack or, “Depending how skinny you are,” with butter. I brought it back with a selection of Icelandic beers from the Viking line and some Icelandic vodka.

Imported delicacies: beer, vodka and dried fish

If you care to see more of Iceland (though precious little food pictures), check out my set on flickr.

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About 2cooksinthekitchen

Two cooks, one from Bushwick and a passionate meat-eater, one from Sunset Park and a former vegan, and both NYC transplants, set out to share original recipes that can be made dairy free and vegan deserts; showcase culinary resources in the outer boroughs (and sometimes Manhattan) where one can find unique, specific and fairly priced ingredients; and participate wholeheartedly in the many cultures of cooking and eating that make up New York City.
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