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Have a heart

I just got back from reading Rozanne’s most recent entry, in which she has a minor coronary [sorry Rozanne!] upon discovering that she’s just unwittingly eaten pork heart as a key ingredient in a sausage.

Whereas my first reaction to her anecdote was: Mmmm, heart!

Yep – here in Niceland we eat lamb hearts without thinking twice about it. In fact, the hearts are considered choice cuts – they’re all muscle, lean, and happen to be very tasty. Lamb liver is also popular chez YT – even AAH, who is a notoriously fickle eater, has loved it since she was very small.

I suppose what it boils down to is the Icelandic tradition of utilizing every part of the animal. Back in the dark ages [a.k.a. early last century] when Iceland was the poorest country in Europe, the majority of the population didn’t have a choice. Everything was eaten – the innards, the flesh, the blood, the head – and, of course, the wool and skin of the Icelandic sheep kept this nation alive. People ate horses too.

Today I wouldn’t say the innards of the sheep are everyday fare, but most of us don’t have any qualms about eating them. Blood sausage [slátur], made from the blood of the sheep and sewn up in the stomach before being boiled, is something families get together to make, as a tradition. It’s been a while since I’ve eaten slátur, but just the other day we were talking about it and EPI was saying how he’d like to have it for dinner one night – bought cold, we slice it up, fry it on a pan, and dust it with a bit of sugar before eating. When I was little, liver and hearts were cooked regularly for dinner – these days they’ve become somewhat of a novelty and are cooked more as a nostalgic throwback than an everyday meal. Svið – sheeps’ heads that are singed to burn the hairs off and then boiled – were standard fare in my parents’ day, and are still readily available – you can even buy them in many stores cooked and ready to take home, similar to a grilled chicken [this tends to gross out the tourists bigtime]. However, most people eat them as a compressed jelly – i.e. with pieces of meat in a salty broth that has been mixed with gelatin to bind it gogether. Very tasty – really.

Mokay then! I guess I can leave the pickled whale blubber and putrid shark for another post [or maybe I’ve elaborated sufficiently on those already in earlier dispatches]. Besides, I’m starting to get hungry and find myself wishing I’d picked up some sviðasulta [sheeps’ head jelly] at the store today.

So gorgeous this morning, sunny and calm with that
iridescent late-summer light – I wanted most of all to go berry picking, but alas, duty called. Clouded over this afternoon but it was still mild and calm, so in other words, lovely. Right now 13°C [55F] and sunrise was at 5:33 am, sunset at 9:27 pm.

PS – When did ‘heart’ start being used as a verb? I see it all over the place – ‘I heart this’ or ‘I heart that’ … this is totally new to me.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mick Barry October 18, 2008, 12:23 pm

    Hi Alda,
    I am enjoying reading your diary. Food is a pretty universal topic especially when it comes to desserts.
    Do they have slátur icy poles up there?
    The small woodden sticks are great for writing names on them, and in conjunction with friends , racing them down creeks (Aussie for mini- fjords?).
    Cannot understand your adjective when describing shark as putrid.
    We have beef steak downunder that would leave an Argentinian drooling, however give me a steak of succulent shark anyday. West Australian shark especially.
    Alda given your experience in the US can you answer me this . If beef comes from a cow and ham from a pig, why do they put beef in hamburgers?
    Have to agree with your appreciation of the Danish smorrebrod, they know their stuff with those delicacies. Their fuldkorn brod is better than cake.
    It’s terrific that you keep up the Lenten fasting,
    may God bless you,
    regards Mick Barry
    When the dwarves numbers went from 50 to 7 everyone began to suspect “Hungry”……..

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