January 22 was Husband’s Day (bóndadagur) in Iceland, which marks the beginning of the old month of Thorri, during which a special kind of food is eaten. Rams’ testicles are the most popular treat—and have also become a popular export product.
Ram's testicles, compressed and pickled.
“The export has been growing little by little. There is great interest for Icelandic balls in Asia and the US,” Ágúst Andrésson at the meat processing company Kjötafurdastöd Kaupfélags Skagfirdinga told Fréttabladid.
Apparently, deep-fried rams’ testicles are considered a delicacy in the US and in Asia they are prepared in a number of ways.
In Iceland, the Thorri food tradition is growing in popularity. “We have sold 50 percent more Thorri food in the weeks preceding the Thorri month compared to last year,” operating director of grocery store Nóatún Bjarni Fridrik Jóhannesson told Morgunbladid.
Thorri food includes hangikjöt, smoked lamb which is also eaten at Christmas, and súrmatur, pickled food, including: blood and liver pudding, ram testicles, sheep-head jelly, brisket and lundabaggi, a roll of secondary meats.
Also eaten during Thorri is putrefied shark and buttered dried fish. A traditional type of bread served alongside the Thorri dinner is flatkaka, a special Icelandic rye pancake.
Jóhannesson said the ram testicles are the most popular among these foods. “It has been that way for a long time and doesn’t seem to change. And the pickled sheep-head jelly is always popular. The putrefied shark also scores high. […] But the best thing about this Thorri is to be able to offer real pickled whale […]. It hasn’t been available for 20 years.”
For those eager to try the Thorri delicacies, they can be bought in various grocery stores in Iceland at this time of year and at restaurants such as Múlakaffi.