Putrefied skate is selling like hot cakes before the traditional Thorláksmessa skate dinner parties held today all over Iceland. Fish mongers claim it is a cock and bull story that young people do not like the smelly skate.
“It is total bullshit that young people are not interested in the skate. Many young people who have started a family come here to buy their skate for Thorláksmessa,” said Hannes Finnbogason, fishmonger in the town of Kópavogur to news website Eyjan.
The popularity of putrefied skate has been increasing steadily according to Finnbogason. The skate is produced domestically and has not increased in price like many other foodstuffs. “On the whole we have sold more this year than in 2007 which was our best year,” said Finnbogason.
For the unacquainted putrefied skate smells like really strong cheese and could be recognized as rotten fish. It has a strong odour of ammonia which many people dislike profoundly. But once people overcome the smell the taste is extremely good.
Consumers can choose between a few varieties of putrefied skate. In the southwest the skate is salted and putrefied and there are two or three scales of strength. In the West Fjord district the skate is processed until it is as strong as possible and not salted at all. This variety is chosen by initiated skate eaters who prefer their skate to be so strong that the first mouthful brings tears to their eyes and makes their throats sore. The skate is mixed with broiled lamb’s lard and eaten hot on Thorláksmessa as a stew but after that it is refrigerated and eaten cold, in slices put on rye bread.
According to Finnbogason the price of skate has only increased seven percent between years, which is much less than most other groceries. Finnbogason is feeling the pinch of the depression and says sales of langoustine lobster and more expensive species of fish have decreased dramatically.