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Eating Hákarl in Iceland

Fermented shark, hákarl, is an example of a cu...

Fermented shark, hákarl, is an example of a culinary tradition that has continued from the settlement of Iceland in the 9th century to this day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the reasons I went to Iceland was to try the country’s “delicacy” (just in case the quotes don’t make it clear enough, this is using the term very loosely) known as hákarl. This translates simply into “shark.” You pronounce it as “HOW-ker.”

But it’s more than that: It’s a shark that’s spent months decomposing underground to begin draining it of toxins. These toxins, according to National Geographic, act as antifreeze so it can live in cold waters around Iceland and Greenland. The curing process makes it safe for humans to eat. After being buried, it’s then exhumed, hung up for a few months, sliced and eaten raw.

I couldn’t wait to give it a go. Watch the video to see what happens, and be sure to read my conclusion at the bottom of this post.

 

Okay, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. I’d eat hákarl before I’d eat gefilte fish, for sure. It’s far cooler. But after the video was shot, my wife looked pretty grossed out, and I half-expected her to abandon me in the south of Iceland if I didn’t dispose of the shark immediately.

So I carried the remained out into the streets looking for a trash can. The two bins I found appeared to be for recycling only. Then I saw a large red bin, which usually means a big truck comes, picks it up and dumps the contents into its garbage-holding area. So I flung the bag up over the walls.

Or so I thought.

The “trash bin” was a storage shed, and it was too big for me to get on top and recover the bag from its roof. So some grocery store storage shed now has a bag of hákarl aging on top of it. Oof. Sorry to my friends in Iceland. I promise I was trying to do the right thing!

 

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6 thoughts on “Eating Hákarl in Iceland

  1. Suzy

    I’m impressed at how you handled that, considering that many of the leaders in the culinary world couldn’t. Hararl sounds absolutely disgusting. I’m pretty sure I felt sick watching you eat that.

  2. Robert Whaley

    Well, you certainly have guts… I was expecting much more of a devistatingly goulish reaction.
    So glad that you survived… now, do you want some Kim-chee?

  3. Suzanne (Travelbunny)

    That was a big spoonful you ate there – not sure I’d go in that big!
    It looks more disgusting than I thought it would – revolting colour… 🙂

  4. Wandering Justin Post author

    If only the color had been the worst thing! That odor is pretty much the stuff of overflowing cat litter boxes. I have to check out your blog a little further to see what else you did in Iceland. Great country!

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