rotting shark and black death
Iceland is a wacky place. Apparently if you're an American and you go there, there will be people just lining up to have sex with you simply because the entire nation only has like twelve people in it and they're all completely sick of each other and are in need of new folks to bang. When I was in elementary school we had an Icelandic au pair named Ragna. As far as I know she didn't have crazy sex with everyone; instead, she sat in her room and cried and occasionally ventured out to change my sister's diaper. She went back to Iceland after a month, where I like to think she lives a rich and fulfilling life involving hot tubs and Bjork. In reality she is probably still sitting in a room and crying, because you would too if your name was Ragna.
Besides totally unfathomably weird people, Iceland is also home to the most virulently repulsive traditional cuisine ever. I'm positing this is because they don't have much on the island besides sheep, or surrounding it besides weird northern-Atlantic fish. Limited food resources + hella awful winters = "creative efficiency," which is the phrase I'm going to use as a euphemism for whatever demonic mind decided that the following recipe was a good idea.
hakarl (rotted shark)
a sandy beach in a cold area
Bury the shark in sand. Wait six to nine months, or until the decomposition process has stalled. Dig up the rotting shark. Serve it frozen in small pieces, accompanied by shots of Brennevin (Ed: an icelandic alcohol whose name somwhat appropriately translates to "Black Death.") in order to mask the flavor of rotting, moldy shark meat.
Here are some fun warnings about Hakarl:
- if you eat too much, you will get horrible diarrhea
- if you dig it up too soon, and eat it, you will die. The sand leeches out ammonia and other toxins from the shark.
- apparently Icelanders consider this worth the risk and effort nonetheless.
I tried to find a picture to go with this recipe, but Hakarl actually looks pretty inoffensive, and pictures of dead sharks - while moderately unpleasant - aren't really that big of a deal. Apparently it's the smell of the decomposed cartilaginous fish-thing that really gets you, and they don't make an HTML tag for stinkiness yet. So instead, here's a picture of an icelandic person being crowned Miss World. Mentally insert rotting shark meat if you like.