We Icelanders, like so many other island nations, are very (excessively) proud of our home country. At the same time, we suffer from a great inferiority complex, which has maybe something to do with the fact that Iceland’s population is only 340.110. Or perhaps, that we are a little lost here in the North Atlantic and until the 21st century we were, more often than not, excluded from or forgotten on world maps. This feeling of insignificance has contributed to a great national sport which is finding things where we are „best in the world“, be it overall (which is slightly hard) or per capita, (which is much easier).
The Best Coca-Cola
We are for example the greatest consumers of Coca-Cola in the world (per capita). Why you may ask when we also have the purest water in the world? Well, the Icelandic water makes the coke taste just oh so good!
The World’s Strongest Man
In the nineties, we had the world’s strongest men (most World’s Strongest Man medals per capita) and the most beautiful women (most Miss World winners per capita). We somehow managed to make this part of our image and shamelessly brag about this still, although frankly it’s been a while since our last win.
The World’s Best Hot Dog
Then there’s the Icelandic hot dog…
I was sitting in the hot tub at the swimming pool the other day, listening in on a conversation between tourists, waiting for them to praise my country so I could feel my daily dose of national pride. And there they were, asking each other whether they had tried “the world’s best hot dog” and discussing the best hot dog stands in the city. I couldn’t help but wonder – how did this happen, how did the pylsa, as we call it, get this coveted label? It didn’t win any contest as far as I know, we didn’t go on any marketing campaign with it, like we did with Iceland after the Eyjafjallajökull eruption and I don’t think that we Icelanders have been bragging about it particularly.
Sure, we love our hot dog. It’s great after a swim, as a quick snack when you’re too busy for a proper meal, at kid’s birthday parties and of course on all trips around the island, but I don’t think we ever saw it as something to promote. Can it be simply that the tourists find our hot dog so delicious that they’ve given it this label “best in the world “all by themselves? Of course, it does have this delicious mix of lamb, pork and beef that makes it quite unique among hot dogs, a natural casing that pops when you take a bite, is served in a warm fluffy bun and just the right size to ease your hunger without making you too full (unless you want a second one, which sometimes happens).
One with Everything!
My favorite is the classic pylsa with ketchup, mustard, and crispy fried onions, but there are many who prefer “eina með öllu” or one with everything, with the additional raw onions and remoulade. Then there’s the famous Clinton, named after Bill Clinton who preferred the Icelandic pylsa with just the mustard. You just have to figure out your favorite. My advice is that it is best served with an ice-cold glass of Coke – bottled in Iceland and therefore “best in the world”.
Want to know more about Icelandic cuisine? Here is our blog about “How to buy ice cream in Iceland” – yes it needs how-to directions. And if you are one of those travelers that feel that exploring the local food is a must on their adventure, we put together a list of things we think are a must to try – read our 12 things to eat in Iceland blog.