April 1, 2019

Hot Dogging in Iceland

Not many people would think of Iceland and hot dogs in the same breath. Volcanoes? Yes. Glaciers? Absolutely. Hot springs and geysers? Without doubt. But hot dogs?

Yes, indeed – and we‘ll say right up front it is a bit of a relief that the hot dog is so popular and readily available since many traditional Icelandic foods – like fermented shark, dried fish and sheep’s head – are not likely to be much of a draw for your family. But hot dogs can be found everywhere, from gas stations to road side stands. Your picky eater will never go hungry!

It’s not the American favorite hot dog but even better – made from Icelandic lamb with beef and pork. Because sheep roam freely eating delicious berries and grasses and cows and pigs are raised on pristine farms, the resulting hot dog is organic and hormone free.

It’s called pylsa or pulsa, depending on which side of the name controversy you are on. It’s served on a warm, soft bun with a host of fascinating toppings; ketchup, sweet mustard, raw onions AND crispy fried onions, and a remoulade – a sauce made with mayonnaise, mustard, capers and herbs. The entire conglomeration is heavenly; really, you can’t eat just one.

In Reykjavik you’ll find a small chain of hot dog stands called Baejarins Beztu Pylsur; they opened in 1937 and have been open every day since. Do. Not. Miss. your chance to indulge yourself at what has been called the best hot dog stand in Europe. Just ask for eina með öllu — one with everything.

Luckily, Iceland has other foods you’ll be happy to eat, so one does not need to live on hot dogs alone. There are wonderful stews of lamb, beef or fish made with locally grown root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, beets. You’ll find many wonderful cheeses made from the rich Icelandic cow and sheep milk. Yogurt fans will swoon over Icelandic skyr, a soft cheese with a mild flavor and the consistency of Greek yogurt. And Icelanders love their ice cream even in the dead of winter, so this favorite dessert is easy to find!