I didn’t think I would have the courage to try hákarl (fermented shark). But that all changed when we arrived at Kolaportið. Originally on the hunt for some cheap Icelandic tat (ha, we quickly learned that cheap and Icelandic don’t go together — even the used tat was expensive and sadly smelled of mothballs), we ended up in the food section and before I knew it we’d been handed cubes of the rotten fish.
I made G have a go first and once he’d swallowed it and his face hadn’t turned purple, I decided it was okay for me to try it. The texture of hákarl is much like any other smoked fish. You don’t really taste much when you first put it in your mouth. It’s just like a cube of fishiness. But the more you chew the stronger the smell and taste of ammonia becomes. And soon it’s shooting up your nose and burning the back of your eyes. For a moment my head was tingling (similar to the sensation you get after taking a shot of vodka) but it didn’t feel like I had to vom. I told myself I couldn’t spit it out because it would have been rude as they’d kindly offered it to us for free, while other stalls charged 250 krona. I had to grab hold of G’s arm to swallow the tiny bit of masticated fish. Although I can’t say the experience was pleasant, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected.