A whale of a confession

I’ve been debating whether to even mention this. Some of you will be horrified, most of you will be grossed out. Some of you might even think I’m an awful person. But I’m just gonna put it out there and be honest.

:: Deep breath ::

While in Iceland… I… ate whale. There, I said it. I ate whale.

minke whale kabob

One guide book I read before going said to not eat it, that the locals didn’t eat whale and it was something only sucker tourists did. But then another book I read said that whale, like puffin and rotten shark meat, was just another old local culinary tradition. Icelanders maybe didn’t eat it regularly but they wouldn’t judge me if I did it.

When my sister and I went Saegreifinn for their famed lobster soup, the only other thing on the menu were different shish kabobs, made of various fish, lobster and scallops. Right in there with them were minke whale kabobs.

Oh, what the hell, I thought, let’s just do this. And so I did. With my sister looking on in complete disgust, I ordered a lobster soup and a minke whale kabob.

Skewered next to a couple of chopped red peppers, the minke whale meat looked like really well-done beef or some other land creature. It was dark on the outside and a deep brown, almost reddish purple color, on the inside. The taste was ok, not fantastic but not gross either. Without the sweet, tangy remoulade type sauce it was served with, it really didn’t have a very distinct flavor at all. But my main problem with the minke whale was its toughness. Every bite seemed to require a hundred chews before being swallowed.

A couple of days later, we went out on a whale watching tour, and even though several species of whales, dolphins and other creatures live in the cold waters around Reykjavik, the only one we spotted several times was the minke whale. In my head I  apologized for eating one of his kind. After all, he wasn’t that tasty anyway.

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Happiness is hot soup on a cold day

With the exception of a good cuddle, a creamy hot chocolate or being burrito-wrapped in my down comforter, there are few things I find more comforting or instantly gratifying than hot soup when it’s cold outside. I feel warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about it.  (Also because New York is pretty chilly right now and I want all of the above.)

In Iceland, where it was frigid every single day we were there (not that I was expecting any different), I probably had soup at least twice a day. Those Icelanders, man, they really know what they’re doing in that department! Below, the highlights of my soup-centric week.

The famous lobster soup at Saegreifinn

At the top of my things-I-MUST-eat-in-Iceland list was the humarsupa, or lobster soup, at Saegreifinn.  The tiny restaurant/fish shack in Reykjavik’s old harbor was supposed to have some of the best lobster soup in town, so the first night we were there, my sister and I made it a point to have it. I can’t say I tried lots of other lobster soups, but I didn’t need to because this one won my vote. Sweet and velvety without being cream-heavy or goopy, it had just the right amount of  fat hunks of sweet lobster meat. My only regret: not going back for more every single day.  Continue reading