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Icelandic “Gourmet” cuisine then and now

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

Icelandic cuisine has changed dramatically over the last 30 years.

I studied at the Icelandic Culinary School from 1980 to 1984 and worked as a chef for 25 years, it has been an interesting journey.  In the beginning, we only had powdered garlic, frozen or canned vegetables, and fruits. The only available meat was lamb, pork, and beef

which was mostly smuggled tenderloin, the older chefs I worked with told us that beef was often substituted by horse way back. Now horse steak has become a popular delicacy. The cuisine has gone from limited sources to a flourishing culinary scene

After the quota on fishing was established in 1984, the sailors got paid more for quality. Before there was a committee from the Government that decided the price of the most popular fish, no matter how fresh it was. This also led to more variety, when the less sought-after types of fish now had more value than before

The traditional old Icelandic cuisine is not for everyone, delicacies such as Sheep heads, sheep intestines, liver, kidneys, and testicles. Dried fish, seaweed, and the infamous fermented Greenland Shark are not for non-adventure eaters, and it has an acquired taste  

This food often is what makes the media when it talks about Icelandic food, some of our guests truly believe this is the only food that is available in Iceland, and I have been asked if people need to bring food with them. 

Fear not!. The New Icelandic cuisine is blooming and a lot of good gourmet restaurants in Reykjavík and around the island. 

Season Tours offers a Gourmet Dinner tour with Chef Tyffi, it is a culinary adventure not to be missed. You get a little introduction to traditional food, and the new gourmet cuisine as well, fish, meat, and cheeses,  the tour starts with a pick-up from your hotel at 13.00 Tyffi takes you around the city and suburbs, visits the President's house, fish monger and interesting outdoor interactive artwork. Tyffi takes you to his house where you sample all the interesting food and drinks. You are back at your hotel or anywhere downtown Reykjavík between 18.00-19.00 in the evening

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