Bastardized Icelandic food



Work In Progress: Translation needs to be polished.

From Morgunblaðið (a newspaper), 20th May 1936:

Smoked skyr and the Icelandic vínarterta.

In the 3rd edition of the Danish weekly paper “Hjemmet”, which came out in January last month, the food column of the paper showed some recipes for “Icelandic food”. There were presented, among other things, recipes for smoked skyr, “Icelandic vínarterta (Vienna cake)”, which you know to be a type of cake peculiar to Iceland, and lastly fish soup, which is every Icelander’s favourite food. These recipes were in general so queer, and so far off from the truth, in that if they were Icelandic it is a unique event and should be regarded by the good Icelander as such(??). An enterprising Icelandic woman, Miss Þuríður Sigurðardóttir took it upon herself to question “Hjemmet” about from where the paper had obtained these “great” recipes for Icelandic food. She said she was especially curious to know more about the “smoked skyr”, which no Icelander, to her knowledge, recognizes. At the same time she sent the paper a recipe for good Icelandic skyr from a dairy here.

Now Miss Þuríður has received an answer to her letter, and she has cordially allowed Morgunblaðið to see it.

THE RECIPES WERE FROM A “BIG, AMERICAN NEWSPAPER”.
They said that these Icelandic recipes had been translated from a big, American paper that “Hjemmet” has connections with. — The woman who composed the recipes travelled to Iceland and collected recipes from various Icelandic farming towns and households.

THE SMOKED SKYR IN SMALL BAGS, AND VÍNARTERTA IS “TYPICAL” FOR ICELAND,
according to an Icelandic woman in Denmark.

Moreover, they say in the letter that the Icelandic woman residing in Denmark has told the paper that she had seen skyr hanging in small bags for smoking in family’s houses in Iceland, when she was a small child.

And concerning the Vínarterta, the same woman has given the information that she has tasted this cake with her family and all her acquaintances in Iceland, and to her the cake is seen as “typical for the fatherland”, she had asked her grandmother who resides in Iceland to send the recipes to her.

But like Miss Þuríður Sigurðardóttir said in the letter to “Hjemmet”, of the cake-type such as discussed here and called Vínarterta, it is not unique to Iceland, rather that tortes(?) are made commonly and many know of them far and wide — in Denmark and other places — although they can be varied in ingredients and preparation.

Smoked skyr is a very new dish for us Icelanders. Morgunblaðið at least has not heard of any Icelander, man or woman, who recognizes the skyr type, our Icelandic national dish has never been smoked.

On the other hand it may well be that the woman with these small bags had seen calves’ stomachs, which in the old days were used to strain skyr. It was the custom, that the calf was slaughtered right after he had finished suckling, so that the milk was congealed inside the stomach. Then the stomach was taken and washed, left outside while wool was sheared(?) and dried in warmth. When it had become hard, it was washed and wetted. Then the nýmjólk (type of milk) was curdled, the whey filtered from the draff and placed in a closed container. In this the calf’s stomach was placed. — This whey was the so-called medicine (starter), buried and fermented, which was used in order to curdle milk into skyr(?).

It is hardly possible to expect that the Danes see to well-educate themselves on the art of Icelandic food-making. But it may have been better to use sources received from another place than an American paper, when introducing Icelandic foods to Danish housewives.

How absurd is it that “smoked skyr” as illustrated in the following manner, should overshadow our good and healthy national dish, Icelandic skyr, in the recipe from “Hjemmet”.

To compare we’ll also show a recipe for Icelandic skyr, which Morgunblaðið has received from Sig. H. Pjeturssyni (Sig. H. Pétursson), a bacteriologist.

“SMOKED SKYR” SKYR
is a type of milk-aspic/congealed milk (oplagt Mælk – Danish recipe) that Icelanders cannot go without. It is made thus: 4 l. nýmjólk (a kind of milk with modernly 3.9% fat), 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 well-beaten eggs, 1 T granulated sugar, 12 drops cheese-curds. The milk is heated to boiling-point and then cooled until it is lukewarm. The cheese-curds are mixed in well. Eggs, cream, and sugar are mixed together then added into the milk. Mix them until it’s all equal (no lumps, etc.) then set it in a warm place. Let stand for 24 hours, put through a cheese strainer (Osteklæde “cheesecloth”). What separates from the milk (det tykke af Mælken “the thick part of the milk”) is then blended with sugar and cream. Whip it a little alone and make cream from it. Now it’s possible to smoke it. (Translated verbatim from “Hjemmet”).

RECIPE FOR ICELANDIC SKYR
The milk is heated up to 90-100°C, Let it cool down to about 40°C and then curdle. In hot weather it’s right to curdle at 37-40°C, but in cold one may curdle at 40-44°C.
For curdling a skyr-starter is used, which is well-sieved/filtered skyr, and cheese-curdle. For the starter use about 1 gram per 1 litre of milk and for the curdle 1 drop per 20 litres milk.

After the curdle is in a container cover it carefully so that it keeps the heat in, but after it drops 4-5 degrees take it off(?) and let it cool. The curdle shall then become dense.

The next day put the curdle through a filter.

When you’ve separated the curds (from the liquid), it’s best to move them into a very small amount of milk and mix the curds in; when they have been carefully mixed together then blend them in with the rest of the (main) milk.(?)