From Iceland — This Week's Culture Pick: A Time-Travel Cake Tasting

This Week’s Culture Pick: A Time-Travel Cake Tasting

Published June 30, 2021

This Week’s Culture Pick: A Time-Travel Cake Tasting
Brittnee Kiner
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A recipe ripe with culture and history but long-forgotten by the minds of most Icelanders, the Vínarterta cake was brought by the Icelandic community to Canada when a third of the country emigrated in the late-nineteenth century. The project, “Cake of the Year: 1876,” is revived by artist Clare Aimée. The event aims to portray the evolution of the Vínarterta recipe, featuring a cake tasting of the time-travel piece.

Time-travel through the flavors of cake

Clare Aimée is an Iceland University of the Arts graduate and she’s inviting guests to a tasting of the historic Vínarterta cake, venturing through the eras as the recipe has evolved between Canada and Iceland. The event is in association with MÁL/TÍÐ, a new art organization that’s taking over the café space in the Reykjavík Art Museum Hafnarhúsið this summer.

Clare Aimée

The exhibition aims to portray how aspects of culture can evolve when taken to new lands, and forgotten in others. The recipe for the cake, Vínarterta, epitomizes the phenomenon. It was brought to Canada along with the Icelandic community as a third of the country emigrated in the late-nineteenth century. The origin of the cake lies in Austria, moving through Denmark, and then to Iceland. Many of the ingredients are expensive imports, making the cake a sign of wealth. Only the most affluent families could enjoy the recipe, making its appearance on special occasions.

A recipe that’s largely been forgotten

The cake remains a significant sign of cultural pride in several Canadian provinces, such as Gimli and Manitoba. Few in Iceland remember the Vínarterta cake or only know similar or simpler versions of the recipe. While in Canada, the recipe remains uniquely preserved by the Icelandic community.

Seven Icelandic bakers will be baking various eras of the recipe for Vínarterta, beginning in 1795. Traveling back in time through the taste of a cake… can it get much better than that? It will take place in the Reykjavík Art Museum Hafnarhúsið on July 1st at 15:00. Participating in the tasting is free. Stop by while the cake lasts!

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