One of the most unique places on earth in terms of culinary adventures can be found on the Faroe Islands. This unique archipelago is home to an array of techniques and methods that spawn from the country's survivalist history, on a remote piece of land where no trees grow and where one might find more livestock than actual human beings. With vegetables being a scarcity and the Islands being surrounded by sea as far as the eye can see, it's not surprising to know that much of its dishes consist of seafood - but that's not nearly all these islands have to offer.
There has never been a more exciting time to visit this far-off destination with chefs pushing the boundaries of what's available to them in recent years. The regional cuisine has been absolutely transformed to include modern techniques as well as keeping alive those which have served the Faroe Islands for centuries, such as drying, fermenting, and aging meats. Root vegetables, with their hardy nature, are the only forms of meatless sides one will find on the island, and, although the options are limited, this has only pushed chefs to become even more creative with how they use what grows naturally. There's no other cuisine that has combined such exotic, unique ingredients with those that are also Nordic in origin, making a roundup of dishes that are truly unique to one place on earth.
The Must-Try Flavors Of Tradition And Ingenuity
According to Visit Faroe Islands, this region is the most prone to environmental changes which can include drastic weather changes. With this in mind, the food of the islands has also gone through many changes and must be easily adaptable to any sudden change on the horizon. While it is a Scandanavian territory, the flavors in this region's dishes are influenced by several things, including its Nordic roots and what's available at any time of the year. During the 9th century, those who lived on the Faroe Islands depended on what they could catch easily, which included sea birds and fish. With such harsh winters, it became necessary to learn how to preserve the game that was caught which includes techniques that are still used to this day in many dishes.
The term ræst is what's referred to as fermentation in other parts of the world, which was the first method used to preserve food for the long term. It's in this respect that farmers are considered the masters of their craft, with codfish and sheep being the top two types of meat that are preserved in this way. Sheep and lamb can be preserved for up to nine months while fish is preserved in salt for up to three. The beauty of this method lies in the process by which it takes place: when a leg of lamb, for example, is preserved through ræst, it's kept in a dry house which allows air to flow through freely. This air is the breeze that comes off the sea naturally, which also brings with it the salty air that helps to flavor and preserve the meat itself - therefore, when the top layer is cut away, the underlayers are revealed to be delicious, salty, aged cuts of meat, similar to the process of the Spanish jambon or Italian prosciutto. The flavors of these aged meats are earthy, briny, and taste amazingly like the surroundings they've been cured in.
Contemporary Dishes In The Faroe Islands
When dining at a restaurant in the Faroe Islands, dishes will always vary seasonally. These dishes include certain types of fish that can be caught according to the time of the year as well as the organic lamb that is raised on the islands. These dishes can be accompanied by vegetables, mostly root vegetables that can grow in the islands' harsh conditions, such as turnips, kohlrabi, potatoes, and rhubarb. Growing vegetables is not easy work and they must be protected from the wind that threatens to blow them over. However, this also means that the vegetables yielded from these efforts are full of flavor, and Faroe Island chefs know exactly how to treat them. With natural flavorings local to the islands such as Foroese herbs and wild algae, a dish is never monotonous or boring to the tastebuds.
One highly sought-after dish is Fulmar, which is the name of a plump bird that inhabits the island's rocky cliffs. These birds are often caught by fishermen as their nests are blown over the cliffs, falling down to the shoreline below. This dish is highly-coveted by the Faroese, as are many of their recipes, as the art of survival in a wind-blown seascape and knowledge of natural resources, has become just as much part of the culture as it has the cuisine.