Living on Sharks and the Sea
Today, I ate uncooked shark meat. Can you believe it?
Allow me to explain from the beginning. Despite the rain today, our group spent much of the day exploring the coasts of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The views were beautiful! There were many cliffs, so we had to be careful not to slip over the edge.
Since Iceland is an island, many of the people here live off the resources of the sea. Being a fisherman seems like a good choice of professions here!
The seafood is very popular here. I’ve only been here two days, but I’ve already had my fair share of fish!
Today we dined in a tiny restaurant overlooking the crashing waves. Our group barely fit inside!
The sea is very powerful here! It doesn’t look too easy to swim in there.
At this little farm, a man and his father (and HIS father before that) make their living off of shark meat.They produce a traditional Icelandic delicacy called Hákari, which we got to try. From the outside, the place looks like a regular farm, but then you walk into this old barn that is converted into a museum, packed with family relics.
It’s not a traditional museum, but everything there is really personal to the family, which was really neat. It’s kind of like walking into someone’s attic and exploring all their old family heirlooms. Here’s a little video I took to try to give you a sense of what it was like! They even had their grandfather’s old boat in there!
The owner taught us all about how they make the shark meat. Basically, nowadays, they buy sharks from fishermen who accidentally caught them in their nets. They slice up the by-catch into small chunks, and then they put it into these wooden boxes with slats in the sides, so the juice can ooze out. When it is fresh, it is actually toxic to people, but it turns out that if you leave it like this for a while, it ferments and somehow turns into healthy meat. Then, they take this uncooked meat, dry it out to get it to be the right texture, and then freeze it when it’s ready. On the outside, it looks all brown and gross, but then when you cut it open, the meat inside looks like a fresh white fish. And then you can eat it! To me, it tasted sort of… fishy… but it was ok. I didn’t split it out or anything. And apparently, it’s actually really healthy once treated in this way.
We learned all sorts of other things about sharks too. For example, did you know that they have several rows of teeth, and the top row falls out after about 3-4 weeks, making way for the new row?
Also, we got to see a bunch of items that these guys found inside of the shark stomachs – a polar bear skin, a small whale tail, and much more.
Overall, I was very impressed by this innovative family. If you lived in Iceland, what kind of business do you think you’d want to start? Be creative — how could you use the resources of the sea to your advantage and make some good money?