Understanding ÞOrrablót, Iceland’s Fermented-Shark-Meat-Filled Festival
I smelled them before I saw them. Two boys, both around four years old, roaming around a music store in downtown Reykjavik with an aroma of ammonia, fish, and rottenness trailing behind them. An employee bent down to speak to one of the boys and asked in Icelandic if he had eaten hakarl, or fermented shark. An enthusiastic “Ja!”’ was the reply. “Vel gert!” She smiled and gave him a high five. The other child wore a handmade crown, the kind you make in kindergarten with construction paper, glitter, and feathers. In this case, the crown had pictures of traditional foods like sheep head that are eaten during the þorrablót festival. It was Bóndadagur, the kick-off day to þorrablót season in Iceland.