Iceland is a tiny country with a long history, and because of that they have lots of very unique foods. Tourists sample the country's smoked lamb, rye bread and wild mushrooms, but their most famous dish is kæstur hákarl - rotten shark meat.
Known for tasting like rotten cheese and smelling like cleaning products, you wouldn't expect something so nasty to become a country's national food. But Icelanders take great pride in this dish, which TV chef Anthony Bourdain once called "the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing."
While visitors might find the taste of hákarl gross, natives have had over a thousand years to get used to this acquired taste.
When vikings first moved to the island, there were plenty of 20-foot long Greendland sharks living nearby to eat. Unfortunately, these sharks are toxic, and it takes a lot of work to make them barely edible.
First the shark is buried under sand and rocks to draw out the poison in its skin, then the meat is dried. Hákarl-makers can tell by the smell when the dish is ready, and it's shipped to grocery stores around Iceland for people to enjoy.
It's true that not everyone in Iceland loves the taste of rotten shark, but everyone encourages tourists to suffer through a serving of this local delicacy.
There's no way to buy hákarl in American grocery stores, but that's probably for the best. It's technically rotten, so if you try some be warned that it could cause food poisoning.
It's probably safer to wait until you take a trip to Iceland to try some that's specially prepared, if you're brave enough!
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