Are You Ready For Some Sheep Face? Þorri Is Almost Here - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Are You Ready For Some Sheep Face? Þorri Is Almost Here

Published January 23, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Gúndi

Does your mouth water when you read the words “sheep face, ram’s testicles and meat jelly”? Then boy are you in for a treat this weekend.

The Norse holiday of Þorri, traditionally the fourth winter month, begins this Friday. Central to this period, which lasts about a month, is dining on þorramatur.

The food served at a þorrablót, a get-together usually replete with drinking, dancing, and a large buffet, is what distinguishes this holiday. Typically, stand-out dishes include braised sheep face, ram’s testicles, blood sausage, and other various and sundry ignored parts of animals. A lot of this stuff is smoked, but a great deal more is soaked in whey for an extended period of time, giving these meats a distinctly sour flavour.

Very little by way of vegetables are served. There may be mashed rutabagas or potatoes, and likely some flatbread, but that’s pretty much it. Everything else is all about meat. As such, those on a keto diet will likely enjoy þorramatur; vegans, not so much.

Do not be fooled by anyone who tells you that þorramatur or the þorrablót is some ancient Icelandic Viking tradition. This is an entirely invented tradition that didn’t come into being until the 1950s, when post-war Iceland experienced a brief romanticist period.

Be that as it may, it’s still great fun to attend a þorrablót, even if you decide to forego the foods on offer and just take in the atmosphere. Plus, it’s a cozy bright spot during these typically darker days of the year.


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