We continue on our theme of preservation, and bring you on a trip to Iceland where we meet a chef turned geothermal salt maker, and a farmer there who’s making an extremely regionally specific dairy product. Our second episode Icelandic foodways of yesterday and today.
Thanks to our friends in Iceland, Gisli Grimmson, Bjorn Jonsson of Saltverk, and to Thorgumir Gubratsson of Erpstadir Skyr. Special thanks to Abbie Richert of Finca Coffee for bringing us a salty dispatch!
Welcome to the Westfjords. Meet us where ocean meets natural thermal hotsprings in this story from Iceland. It is in this landscape that Bjorn produces salt for his company Saltverk.
In the corner of Iceland, is a stunningly beautiful and scarcely populated region with a spectacular geological past and present. Cold Atlantic currents travel through deeps fjords and rigid mountains, and steam breaks through the groundwater of the ocean at temperatures hotter than boiling waters. These so called hotzones, are the source of Iceland’s magnificent geothermal energy, powering their agricultural sector and after a 200 year hiatus, it’s saltmaking as well.
Meet the guys that brought back geothermal sea salt in Iceland. Learn how it’s made and learn about the origins of Icelandic cuisines.
How bacalao became blue…
Soon after Gisli Grimsson launched Saltverk, he was contacted by historians and learned that centuries ago a salt company had existed exactly where Saltverk now stands. This bonus clip is a recording of Gisli telling us the story of how the way salt was harvested then led to a brightly color blue fish.
Whetstone Dispatch: Salt-making in Peru’s Sacred Valley
And now for an entirely different kind of salt harvest. Read Abbie Richert’s story from Whetstone Magazine Volume 3 where she reports from one of the world’s most ancient salt harvesting practices that has been passed down and preserved to this day.
While Bjorn produces salt by evaporating water from the ocean in Iceland, the people of Maras have stewarded an ancient communal salt pond system that captures waters from a naturally salty mountain spring. In the village of Maras at 11,000 feet elevation, thousands of salt pools are in various stages of evaporation in a breathtaking spectacle and harvest tradition that dates back at least to the Incas and maybe longer.
Abbie Richert is the Founder of Finca Coffee, a cold brew coffee company that works directly with coffee growers and farmers in Columbia.
Icelandic Saga of Laxdaela
Our first guest Thorgimur Gubrasttson, is located in one of the most historical regions in Iceland - more specifically where the Saga of Laxdaela occurred. It’s the most popular unrecognized settlement saga of the Icelandic history, and has gained popularity worldwide.
The Laxdaela Saga is an Icelandic tale that dates back to 1245. The story was passed down through generations through auditory storytelling. The saga is tragic, and one that focuses on a story of love and of relationships between family and friends.
An initial prologue outlines the origins of the family, and how the families and they came to arrive in Iceland. However, The meat of the story centers around three central characters: Kjartan Olafsson, Bolli Thorleiksson, and Gudrun.
Kjartan and Bolli are two men living in Iceland and they’re best friends. Kjartan is in love with Gudrun, and they immediatly set to marry. However, the marriage is delayed for three years, while Kjartan goes to Norway to earn greater success and become a “better husband” for Gudrun. Bolli goes with him. While in Norway, the Norwegian King wants Icelanders to convert to Christianity. He holds Kjartan hostage, but Bolli is allowed to escape. Bolli returns to Iceland hoping to gain support to go free Kjartan, but none come to his aide. When Bolli meets Gudrun, he instantly falls in love. With Kjartan out of the picture, they decide to get married.
Eventually, Kjartan is allowed to return. Upon his arrival, he pretends to be happy for the couple, but internally, he plots his revenge. Kjartan marries someone else, but soon war breaks out between Bolli and Kjartan. Bolli ends up killing Kjartan, and Gudrun supports him—jealous that Kjartan would marry anyone else. In return, Kjartan’s family kills Bolli. Lastly, Bolli’s son kills his father’s murderer. The afterward then details the continuous cycle of vengenace, until a priest is eventually able to reconcile it.
Written by: Quentin Lebeau
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Laxdæla Saga.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., https://www.britannica.com/topic/Laxdaela-saga.
“Laxdaela Saga Summary.” SuperSummary, http://www.supersummary.com/laxdaela-saga/summary/.