Sunday, February 7, 2010

Þorrablot, and Black Death, and Ram Testicles Oh My...

Þorrablot 2010 did not disappoint. Having grown up and spent most of my life in a relatively large city I have not had the privilege of attending a gathering of an entire town in a community hall. As instructed we arrived promptly at 8pm dressed to the nines (wool hiking tights and Adidas sneakers were the crux of my outfit) and were welcomed at the door by a pungent scent wafting out from within, the stink filled with the promise of horrible foods that awaited us inside. As outsiders in the small village our tables were positioned accordingly, shoved to the far side of the room. The long banquet tables for the regally dressed locals were positioned so that no one would miss out on the view of the stage. The evening began with the master of ceremonies making jokes in Icelandic for what felt like an eternity while my stomach rumbled with hunger. As he incomprehensibly went on and on I anticipated the cornucopia of rancid food I would never eat waiting for me in just the next room. This would be the most expensive meal consisting of bread and potatoes I'd ever pay for. At the moment when things couldn't feel more like a scene a la David Lynch, or a totally bizarre dream a 17 year-old accordion player came on stage to lead us all in traditional Icelandic song. The MC returned to give careful instruction as to the order in which the tables were to proceed to get food. It was finally our table's turn... the vegetarians and other cautious eaters, anxiously approached the buffet that we later learned had a sweet and a sour side. Piles of roasted lambs heads (teeth still there, eyeballs staring up at you), filets of whale meat, spreads of ram testicles.. it was a culinary murder scene. I returned with a plate of a variety of breads, dried fish (I was promised it was good when dipped in butter but what isn't good when its covered in butter?) potatoes prepared two different ways, and a shit ton of butter for all of that bread (the bread is one of the few food things they do right here). Jeehee, roommate and table partner for the night was far more adventurous. I had the pleasure of watching her hack away at the lamb's head and indulge in other unsavory foods. She liked most everything... good for you, Jeehee. All of this was washed down with several shots of Brennivin, aka. Black Death which is not as bad as it sounds and had a licorice, spicy flavor. Perhaps it was that third shot of Black Death but some how Jeehee convinced me that this was my time to try harkarl (petrified shark meat, a delicacy here in bassackwards Iceland). Please see pictures below for a better description of my experience. It took several more shots of Brevvin and a cup of coffee to recover from said event. After dinner, there was a 1.5 hour performance by aprox. 15 locals which consisted of roughly 8 skits and 7 song all about the happenings in the town over the last year. While we couldn't understand a word, there was no doubt, the audience was loving every second of it and the smallness of this place became clearer and clearer. One skit, we inferred was about how this town just started recycling this year, and isn't learning about recycling hilarious? Yes, when you live in 550 person Skagastrond, it most certainly is. Regardless of the fact that we had no idea what was going on, what was apparent was the amount of dedication and rehearsal that clearly went into this one night affair. We later learned from Danw (the town's fortune teller) that they had been practicing every night for at least the last month. Following this truly unique performance a band played cover songs and everyone stayed to dance until about 5 am. Hearing Video Killed the Radio Star sung with a thick Icelandic accent while watching all the town's teenagers dance to it (all 30 of them) was particularly special.


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