When in Iceland do as the Icelandic do! I’m pretty sure Icelanders sleep in bike sheds, have lunch in drain pipes and ‘baaaa’ manically at sheep… If so, we blended in seamlessly!
If not, then we probably shouldn’t be allowed back into the country! We did manage to at least eat like Icelandic cycle tourers!
This post will hopefully enlighten future cyclists embarking on a tour of Iceland on the food, wild plants and … the bike pit!
You can learn a lot from a new country by adapting to it’s collective taste buds. Icelandic taste buds have come a long way since their Viking ancestors, yet still retains the basic diet of fish, lamb, skyr (yogurt), seasonal berries and herbs once eaten by the Vikings.
During our recent cycle tour of Iceland, the food we choose was dictated by weight, perishability and price. It’s a very expensive country. Prices were usually twice or even thrice as expensive as back home. We tried to do most of our shopping in the discount store, Bósus.
Along with staples of pasta, noodles and porridge, we ate at least one of the food items below during any giving day on the road.
Food on the Road
Dried fish was a great source of nourishment while cycling. It’s light, full of protein, keeps well and tastes really good, especially with a spread of butter. We mainly bought ÿsa, (haddock) and it’s usually found in most shops around the country.
Sildarsalat (herring salad) wasn’t the most ideal food to be carrying around, but it was nice as a treat once and a while. It’s smoked herring, beet, potato and mayonnaise. Blodmör is sheep blood sausage with oatmeal, flour and suet. It tasted very similar to one of my favourite Irish foods, Black Pudding, but with a strong mutton taste. Generally a roll of it would last a few days. It’s parboiled so would last relatively long and only needed to be gently heated by either frying or boiling.
Once cooked by Icelanders in a geothermally heated earthen pit in the ground, rúgbraud is a lot more filling and satisfying than other breads. It has a slightly sweet, smokey taste.
Peanut butter!! So much peanut butter was consumed!
Icelandic flatbread is the oldest type of Icelandic bread and is made from rye flour and water. It’s dense and flat, and tastes great with smoked meats and fish. It can also be used in a similar way to a pizza base, pile some cheese, meats and whatever else on top and you have an Icelandic pizza!
Kleinur, or Icelandic doughnut. Crispy on the outside, soft in the middle. Great with coffee!
After the 2008 economic crash and the air travel chaos caused by the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, Icelanders had to re-examined what they had locally rather than import from over seas. People began to use resources around them and look to the past to rekindle old methods for preparing and preserving foods. A renewed interest of getting back to basics grew and was very evident to us as we travelled through the country.
Most cafes and restaurants we visited had some form of locally sourced or foraged wild food. In the past, gathering herbs and berries in the summer was essential to provide much needed vitamins and nutrition during the long dark winter months. Nowadays foraged wild foods add a distinctive and individualistic Icelandic flavour to foods.
Map and Bike Pit
We found out about this map near the end of our trip! It would have been a great help to have as it outlines various facilities along the route, attractions, bike mechanics, shops and stores as well as attractions and quality of the roads for cyclists.
As you exit the main doors out of Keflavík airport, you will see the bike pit. It’s an air conditioned shed that has all the tools to get you on the road or to help you dismantle for when you’re flying home again. We spent our last night in Iceland trying to get a few hours sleep here while waiting for our flight home to Ireland!