Endless Road Trip Iceland: I Ate a Whale and I Liked It

Grill Market Iceland Whale Steak

What does whale taste like? GUILT. Sweet, meaty guilt.

I recently took a trip to Iceland and one of its (many, many) highlights was the seafood. While the expected specialty dishes, such as arctic char and langoustine, were incredibly fresh, I want to talk bigger. I want to talk WHALE.

The first night we had dinner in Reykjavik we headed to Tapasbarinn, a dark, romantic little tapas bar (yep, tapas in Iceland! Who knew”) where we ordered the “Icelandic Feast” tapas set to share. One of the first dishes brought out was whale, and I can’t deny that I was excited to try it. I had expected something really blubbery, but it was really lean! I would describe whale meat like kind of like a rich, rare steak. It was absolutely delicious. I don’t have any photos of our food from that first night, because I meant what I said—that place was super atmospheric, but super dark, and I didn’t want to be the a-hole with the flash photography ruining the ambiance.

Anyway, let’s talk. You can’t deny the controversy surrounding the consumption of whale. Whaling is internationally banned, but three countries choose to ignore the ban: Japan, Norway, and Iceland. In defense of Iceland, I only saw minke whale, an un-endangered breed, served in restaurants. Plus they don’t have a ton of natural resources that far north, so I suppose that traditionally they had to take what they could get. Boyfriend Rob and I took a whale-watching tour (recommended!) on the last day of our trip, though, and the guide explained to us that only about 10-15% of whale is eaten by native Icelanders, and the rest is just for tourists. That made me feel kind of bad.

Read More