From Iceland — Nætursalan


Published August 11, 2006


If you want the full 360 on Akureyri dining, you must pay a visit to Nætursalan. Preferably between the hours of 00:00-05:00 on a weekend. Preferably when you’re drunk.
During the normal hours of the day, an Akureyri local will undoubtedly swear off the place for anything more elaborate than a standard issue hot dog and bottle of Coca-Cola, but there is a special time, during the aforementioned hours of the night, when Nætursalan rules supreme. This is a time when a 500 ISK hamburger and a brown paper sack full of French fries represents the finest in Akureyri dining. It may not be a proud time, hell, it may not be a time that you will remember the next morning, but it is a time when one place is always there for you. Or at least, there for you until really, really late.
Without a doubt the joint’s crown jewel is the Akureyringur. I must admit that long before I had the pleasure of encountering it, I had heard legend of what can only be called a stroke of dining genius. The Akureyringur makes use of two key observations about late-night dining: 1) you’re probably haven’t eaten for between six and eight hours, and 2) your taste buds are probably slightly paralysed. Thus, the sandwich, in all its gluttonous excess, kills two drunk birds with one stone.
While I can’t say for sure that the sandwich originated at the Nætursalan, I assume it was invented in Akureyri, considering its pseudonym. It is likely that the name comes from its indulgent employment of kokkteilsósa, an Icelandic delicacy consisting of mayonnaise blended together with ketchup in a very elusive ratio, that citizens of Akureyri, especially, are said to enjoy. In that case, it is entirely possible that the sandwich was dubbed by a bitter citizen of Reykjavík, trying to pass off blame for his own gluttony. Regardless of its true origin, it is clear that the sandwich draws inspiration from Henry David Thoreau who, in Walden, suggested that in all things in life, we “simplify, simplify”.
Oh, and by the way, the Akureyringur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, with French fries and globs and globs of kokkteilsósu in the middle. Don’t flinch before you try it.

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