From Iceland — Horrible Writing, Good Read, Great Eats

Horrible Writing, Good Read, Great Eats

Published July 28, 2006

Horrible Writing, Good Read, Great Eats

There is a lot to laugh at in Delicious Iceland. Start with the dedication by former President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, who apparently believes second grade English is official soundin’: “I have always been fascinated by the multiple food traditions in the different countries of the world.” Go on to the prose of the authors, chef/ pen/ photo model-throughout-the-book, Völli Snær, and Haukur Ágústsson (photographed only once), who haven’t grasped that some plurals, like fish roe, don’t need an s, or that writing should be relevant, “Sometimes roes were pressed into the stomach of a fish, cooked and then smoked or put in sour whey. I have not tried any of these preparations, but am pretty certain that I would enjoy them, especially the smoked one.”
Yeah, it’s a good time to laugh at people who have learned a few crafts, but decide to embarrass themselves publicly by failing in others.
However, for as many horrible sentences as there are in Delicious Iceland, it’s still a good read. Honestly, it’s one of the best books about food to come out of the country that I know of.
Maybe in foregoing a proof reader, and, for that matter, English education, Völli and Haukur got more time and a larger budget to write up Icelandic food at large. Certainly almost every topic relating to Icelandic cuisine, even the most irrelevant (see above), is covered. And Völli at least seems to be a chef who runs a good kitchen.
For example, right now, I would kill for the Nut and Raisin Bread with Blue Cheese and Port Wine Reduction that he tells us how to make on page 224. And strangely enough, Völli and Haukur’s daft prose actually makes the recipe look that much more inviting. I would also like his Braised Lamb Shank (p. 176) and Icelandic Crepes with Chunky Mango Sauce (p. 156). The preparations don’t seem particularly Icelandic, and I am a little surprised that I’m told about kleina (called a “cruller” here) and hangikjöt without getting recipes, but I acknowledge that these probably aren’t popular among English speakers.
Cooking from this book is easy, and you get photos of Icelandic food, which really aren’t that common. That you can laugh through clumsy English is just a bonus.

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