Important parts of Icelandic cuisine are lamb, dairy, and fish, due to Iceland’s proximity to the ocean. Popular foods in Iceland include skyr, hangikjöt (smoked lamb, kleinur, laufabrauð and bollur. Þorramatur is a traditional buffet served at midwinter festivals called Þorrablót and containing a selection of traditionally cured meat and fish products served with rúgbrauð (dense dark and sweet rye bread) and brennivín (an Icelandic akvavit. Much of the taste of this traditional country food is determined by the preservation methods used; pickling in fermented whey or brine, drying and smoking.
Modern Icelandic chefs usually place an emphasis on the quality of the available ingredients rather than age-old cooking traditions and methods. Hence, there is a number of restaurants in Iceland that specialise in seafood and at the annual Food and Fun chef’s competition (since 2004) competitors create innovative dishes with fresh ingredients produced in Iceland. Points of pride are the quality of the lamb meat, seafood and (more recently) skyr. Other local ingredients that form part of the Icelandic chef’s store include seabirds and waterfowl (including their eggs), salmon and trout, crowberry, blueberry, rhubarb, Iceland moss, wild mushrooms, wild thyme, lovage, angelica and dried seaweed as well as a wide array of dairy products.
Animal products dominate Icelandic cuisine. Popular taste has developed, however, to become closer to the European norm, and consumption of vegetables has greatly increased in recent decades while consumption of fish has diminished. Fresh lamb meat remains very popular while traditional meat products, such as various types of sausages, have lost a lot of their appeal with younger generations.