Don't Ask Nanna: Why Icelanders Eat Shark - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Don’t Ask Nanna: Why Icelanders Eat Shark

Don’t Ask Nanna: Why Icelanders Eat Shark

Published May 8, 2015

Nanna Árnadóttir
Photo by
RMM

I WAS STATIONED IN ICELAND FROM ’67-’69. I ENJOYED EATING AT A REYKJAVIK RESTAURANT BY THE NAME OF HRESSINGAR SKAULIN. I THINK THAT IT WAS ON HAFNARSTRAITI.. IS IT STILL THERE?
ALSO, IS THERE NO E-MAIL WAY TO ASK GUDMUNDUR ?
TAK FYRIR HJALPENA

W.M

Dear W.M,

Take note readers, W.M gives approximately zero fucks about both the caps lock button on his keyboard and the fact that he’s emailed one magazine’s advice column to get the email address of another advice giver.

I bow to thee W.M. You have inspired me to be nice, JUST THIS ONCE.

The restaurant you want, Hressingarskálinn is still on Austurstræti.

Nanna

Hi Nanna,

What is the history of shark eating in Iceland? Why did Icelanders start preserving and eating this absolutely appalling food?

Gourmand

Dear Gourmand,

There was a man named Kári the Half-Giant, son of Bjári and Smári. Kári the Half-Giant was known across the land for his mighty stature, so tall and strong that none could match him. In his youth Kári the Half-Giant roved the seas as a freebooter with his dear friend Escobar with whom he shared one common purse. They were the dearest friends.

One day after setting sail from the Land of Ice to plunder and conquer many peasants on distant shores, Escobar was tragically devoured by a sea monster, known to us now as, One-Eyed Shark.

Kári the Half-Giant mourned the loss of his dearest friend and bound himself by this vow, not to let his hair be cut or combed till he had exacted his revenge on One-Eyed Shark. Soon he was known only as Kári Stink-Head.

Many summers passed as Kári Stink-Head roamed the sea in search of One-Eyed Shark, a.k.a Hilmar Hákarl a.k.a Hilli Hákarl a.k.a Himmi Dimmi Hallikallinn. But the beast remained elusive until the tenth summer when after a hard chase One-Eyed Shark finally burst from the water, rows of sharp needle teeth bared, ready to devour Kári Stink-Head, just as he had devoured his friend all those years ago.

But just because the people called Kári Stink-Head, Kári Stink-Head, did not mean he was not still a Half-Giant in his heart and he punched the great One-Eyed Shark in his good eye and conquered him.

Victorious, Kári Stink-Head chopped One-Eyed Shark (now known as No-Eyed Shark) into many pieces, relieved himself on those pieces, air dried them then ate them. Kári Stink-Head did so to devour the beast’s power and also because he was hungry.

After that Kári Stink-Head cut and combed his hair and was known only as Kári Shark-Avenger.

To this day, when Icelanders eat shark they wink at one another before eating it, in respect of the great One-Eyed Shark and as a salute to the great hero who stopped at nothing for love.

Fin.

Dear Nanna,

I would like to try a traditional Icelandic breakfast, I’ve already tried skyr and making traditional Icelandic pancakes and was hoping to try something new! Any suggestions?

Ewan

Dear Ewan,

Cheerios. The plain kind in the big yellow box.

Nanna

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