Iceland’s Ugly Food Festival (Þorrablót) is here

The month of Þorri begins on the 23rd of January which is Bóndadagur, (Husband’s Day) and ends on Konudagur (Women’s Day) marking that special time of year known as Þorrablót, where Icelanders feast on ugly food in every pocket of the country. Blót = a festival held in honor of a Norse god, in this case, Þor.

The food that is served is called Þorramatur (mat=food) and includes boiled sheep head, pickled ram’s testicles, blood pudding, liver pudding, hangikjöt (smoked lamb) and the most offensive of them all, rotten shark. (heads up- it’s the little pale cubes in the photo above served in their own plastic container). If you are invited to a Þorrablót celebration, there will often be other, more, um… normal foods offered for the squeamish (that’s me!) such as smoked salmon, rugbrauð (rye bread), and flatkökur, also known as flatbrauð or flatbread, the Icelandic version of unleavened bread which dates back to Icelandic Settlement in 874AD.

The first Þorrablót was held by the association of Icelandic students in Copenhagen in 1873, but did not become widely celebrated until the 1960s when a Reykjavik restaurant offered traditional food that was more commonly eaten in the countryside. Neatly coinciding with the rise in the tide of nationalistic sentiment in the mid 20th century, the Þorrablót tradition gained traction and is now a popular mid-winter event.

Of course, if you have grown up with this kind of thing, the nostalgia for it will be with you forever. But for the rest of us….

Try it at your own risk!