So I Went to Iceland and Ate Sheep Balls…

So what is there to do in Iceland? Well there is the scenic landscape, the friendly Icelandic people and, of course…the sheep balls.

Yes, I said sheep balls.

During the Icelandic midwinter festival, Þorrablót or Thurseblot, it’s somewhat of a tradition to eat a feast that mainly contains the following treats:

  1. Hákarl (putrefied shark)
  2. Blóðmör (filled sausage/black pudding)
  3. Hrútspungur (ram’s scrotum with testicles)
  4. Lundabaggi (sheep’s fat)
  5. Svinasulta (jellied ham)
  6. Svið (jellied sheep’s head)
  7. Harðfiskur (bread spread made of fish)
  8. Hangikjot (smoked lamb)

Sounds delicious, huh? Yea, not really. But I was greatly inspired by the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. As he always says, “If it looks good, eat it!”

Well, it definitely didn’t look good, but I didn’t want that to stop me from sampling the cuisine. In case you want to spare yourself from trying such an interesting meal, I’ll give you the lowdown on what to expect.

First up was the Hrútspungur, or ram’s scrotum with testicles. The one I had didn’t have the..uh..sack. In my mind I was expecting a small slice of just a testicle. Wow, that sounds gross to write.

In reality, it was a jello mold of several sheep balls made into a patty. You eat it with a yellow root paste (if you know what this is called or how it’s made, let me know!). I think it was more mental for me as I put it in my mouth, I couldn’t help but think of what it was. It was slightly grainy. To be honest, I may have blacked out because I don’t remember (or don’t want to remember) what it actually tasted like.

Out of everything we tried, I’d have to say the sheep head was the most pleasant. It just tasted like regular meat. The most strange were the balls. The most flavorful was the putrified shark. I don’t quite have an opinion on the whale blubber we ate. The woman running the restaurant said that was her favorite.

All in all, it was an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’d recommend people try. I must say that the place we went to was extremely nice as they stayed open after closing to let us try the food for free. I think they were more curious to see tourists try some of their cultural foods.

After that experience, I can definitely say that I’d love to revisit Iceland and all its sheepy glory. Ok, maybe not the sheep part.

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Written by Ryan Lum

Ryan is an avid bucket lister. Travel, photography, blogging and adventure are some of his hobbies. He once went on a trip to Spain and was robbed of all his stuff except his clothes. No money, no insurance, no identification and no way to contact family and friends from back home. Did he end his trip? No way! He ended up running with the bulls in Pamplona the very next day.


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