Happy Feast of Saint Thorlacius.

I hope everyone got some “cured” skate!

It is the reason for the season, the excuse for all Manly Men, and Women, to go somewhere suitable (like the garage, your uncle’s house, or a restaurant desperate enough to put up with the smell and serve the stuff) and eat the food traditional to this Eve of of the Day of Advent Yule.

Þorlákur, the patron saint of Iceland, a truly novel game of Thor’s to have one of his own be the patron Saint.
His feast has been celebrated on this day for 808 years, by law.
Party on.

Tindaskata – from fauna.is
Copyright Jón Baldur Hlíðberg, www.fauna.is.

UPDATE: if you like funky fish, fowl or plants, www.fauna.is has the most comprehensive and gorgeous set of pictures, drawings and plates of the wildlife of Iceland.

In celebration of this day, leading into the festive season, the obscure custom of eating cured skate has spread – since skate is poisonous fresh, it has to decompose sligtly first, and is then eaten, either lightly salted or strongly salted, and rotten.
With potatos, and butter, or molten lambs fat with crispy bits of abdominal membranes. Yummy.
You only eat the wings! That is important.

Wash down with lots of cold beer – Egil’s, or Polar – and icecold brennivín.


  1. #1 HP
    December 23, 2007

    When I was in college — over 20 years ago, now — I had an Icelandic friend who brought back some brenniv�n for us to try. It was delicious, and ever since then I’ve wanted to taste the various Icelandic delicacies it was meant to enhance.

    Sure, you Icelanders can use words like “decomposed,” “putrid,” and “ammonia” to describe it all you like, but that just makes me want it more.

    Unfortunately, I’m stuck in the middle of North America with no travel prospects any time soon.

    Are you sure fresh skate is toxic, or is that just something people say in order to justify the curing process? I know I’ve eaten fresh shark, and I’m fairly certain I’ve had fresh skate with no ill effects.

  2. #2 Steinn Sigurdsson
    December 24, 2007

    there are a lot of species – I am reasonably certain that the specific cold water atlantic species used in these delicacies are in fact toxic when fresh, but I have not tried this myself…

    it used to be possible to order shark and a lot of the pickled internal lamb bits online, bit post 9/11 it has become a lot harder to ship such stuff, too much paperwork, and all the places I knew that would ship shut down. You can still get candy and stuff shipped, but for now for the real stuff you either have to go in person or wait for Whole Foods to decide it is really healthy and start carrying it along with skyr

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