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品嘗冰島傳統美食:腐爛魚肉

In Iceland, food is a challenge, not a meal
品嘗冰島傳統美食:腐爛魚肉

The snow drifted high around the little outbuilding of a restaurant I was in, metres from the gelid ocean, but the place was warm, decorated with fish nets and crab carapaces and the occasional gnome. On a dish in front of me was liver sausage cured in soured whey, dung-smoked lamb and a couple of slabs of rotten skate that looked like they were designed by H R Giger and smelled strongly of urine. The liver sausage was appropriately sour but otherwise sausage-y, and the lamb benefited greatly from the fact that sheep apparently don’t digest very well, meaning that it could just as easily have been called grass-smoked lamb.

我在的一家餐廳外面的小屋周圍飄著高高的積雪,這里離極寒海洋只有幾米遠,但這地方卻很溫暖,裝飾著漁網和蟹甲,還有幾個精靈。我面前的一道菜是酸乳清浸肝腸、煙熏羊肉和幾片腐爛的鰩魚肉(Skata),看上去好像是漢斯·魯道夫·吉格爾(H R Giger)設計似的,聞起來有股濃濃的尿味。肝腸酸度剛好,否則腸的味道會很重,羊肉的品相感覺那只羊消化不太好,意思是說它可以簡單被叫做草熏羊肉。

As I raised my fork with my first piece of the rotten fish, a voice boomed at me from across the room.

正當我拿起叉子叉起第一片爛魚肉時,一個穿透房間的聲音嘭地一聲響起。

“Skata! Ha!”

"腐爛魚肉!哈!"

It was an Icelander in his mid- to late 20s, short, bearded and a little stout – a guide bringing in a couple of Chinese tourists. His name was Gísli. He’d been my guide the night before in this small northern town of Akureyri. We’d spent a lovely evening chasing the aurora borealis in his SUV, listening to the glockenspiels, tambourines, bowed guitars and falsettos that loom so large in Iceland’s famously soft, ethereal music.

這聲音是來自一個二、三十歲的冰島人,矮個,胡子拉碴的,有些壯實——他是一名導游,正拉來兩個中國游客。他的名字叫吉斯利(Gísli)。在這座阿庫雷里(Akureyri)的北方小鎮,他是我昨晚的導游。我們耗上了美麗一晚的時間在他的SUV里追逐北極光,聽鐘琴、鈴鼓、琴弓和若影若現的寬闊假音,合奏著冰島柔美、優雅的著名樂曲。

“Good? Do you like it?” Gísli boomed. I told him I hadn’t tried it yet.

"好吃嗎?你喜歡嗎?吉斯利嚷嚷道。我告訴他,我還沒有試過。

“You’ll love it! It’s horrible!”

"很難吃!但你會愛上它的!"

Then I tried it. The skate was hot, just out of the oven, but the burn I felt on my tongue was chemical, a result of some strong ureic reaction going on in this decomposing fish corpse. I may have made a face.

于是我嘗了嘗。魚肉是燙的,新鮮出爐,但那種舌頭上的灼燒感是一種化學反應,由這只被分解的魚體而引起的某種強烈的尿道反應。我大概做了個怪相。

“Ha!” Gísli was back across the room with his clients, but had kept an eye on me. “Terrible, right? Ha, I love it! They give me one, I’ll finish it and ask for more. Good Viking food! Strong! Ha!”

"哈!"吉斯利穿堂回來,跟他的客戶一起,但始終注意著我。"很糟糕,對吧?哈,我愛它!他們給我了一只,我吃完了,還要更多。很棒的維京美食!重口味!哈!"

It was hard to tell with his thick sweater and large jacket, but he may have done a pec flex with that last ‘ha’.

穿著他的厚毛衣和大外套其實很難分辨,但他可能用最后一個"哈"做了個鼓動肌肉的動作。
 

冰島人與他們的食物有種極為特殊的關系

I finished the rest of the fish and went back to the buffet for a little lamb face. It was my second day of a week-long trip, and only my third meal. But right from my lunch the previous day at a place called Kaffi Kú (Cow Café), where I ate a big bowl of beef stew in a glassed-in dining room that jutted out into and over the stables where the pre-stew cows were milling about, I got the impression that Icelanders have a different relationship to their food than most.

我吃完了剩下的魚,回到自助餐席,吃了一點羊臉肉。這是我一周行程的第二天,僅僅是我的第三頓飯。我前一天的午餐,在一個叫做??Х瑞^(Kaffi Kú)的地方,我吃了一大碗燉牛肉。那是個四周用玻璃圍住的餐廳,在旁邊的就是上燉前的牛在里面瞎轉悠的牛棚。就是這時我產生了一種印象,冰島人與他們的食物有著極為特殊的關系。

Bringing people up-close to the source of their food is admirably rational, but that rotten fish seemed anything but. And as I ate my way down to and across capital city Reykjavik, eating more rotten, sour and dung-smoked foods, it occurred to me that Icelandic food culture was not only odd, but possibly unique. Though eating cheaper and often less-obviously appetizing parts of animals and plants is common, every other national cuisine I’d tried took pride in how good they were able to make their calf stomach (Bulgarian shkembe), sheep’s brain (Moroccan mokh mchermel) or cows’ tails (Jamaican oxtail stew). But Icelanders like Gísli, it seems, revel in how bad their traditional food is.

把人帶到食物的源頭著實理性得令人佩服,但腐爛的魚肉卻全然不是這樣。我沿著首都雷克雅維克(Reykjavik)一路吃下去,享用了更多的腐爛、發酸、糞熏食物,這讓我感受到,冰島美食文化不僅是奇怪,而且可能堪稱極品。盡管吃到便宜的,不那么常見的動物和植物部位是很常見的事情,例如保加利亞牛肚,摩洛哥羊腦,牙買加牛尾,他們都因未能將罕見部位烹飪得多么可口而驕傲。但是冰島人,就像吉斯利,仿佛沉醉于他們的傳統美食有多么糟糕。

People tend to think that Vikings are to Icelanders roughly what Romans are to Italians. And Vikings were notoriously tough, laughing in the face of hardship, able to withstand extreme suffering and strike terror into the hearts of their enemies.

人們通常會認為維京人是冰島人,大致就像是認為羅馬人就是意大利人。眾所周知,維京人很強悍,他們嘲笑苦難,能夠忍受極端的痛苦,讓他們的敵人聞風喪膽。

But here’s the thing: Icelanders aren’t Vikings. They never were. According to a relatively modest note near the beginning of the 871±2 permanent exhibit at the Reykjavik City Museum, Icelanders are mostly descended from Norwegian farmers who wanted to get away from the Vikings and just tend their fields and livestock in peace.

但有一件事情要說:冰島人并不是維京人。他們從來就不是。雷克雅維克城市博物館871±2永久展覽中開始部分有一條相當中肯的注解,冰島人大多起源自想逃離維京,只是與世無爭種地養家禽的挪威農民。

“That’s one of the great new things,” said Jesse Byock, author of Viking Age Iceland and a professor of early Icelandic history and Old Norse saga literature at both the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Iceland. “Icelanders never really connected themselves to the Viking world, they were always Icelanders. But the younger people are very enthusiastic about Vikings, and they’re all working hard to show that they can eat this stuff.”

"那是一件偉大的新事物,"《維京時代冰島》(Viking Age Iceland)作者,加利福尼亞大學洛杉磯分校(UCLA)和冰島大學(University of Iceland)早期冰島歷史和古斯堪的那維亞文學教授耶西·碧奧格(Jesse Byock)這樣說。"冰島人從未真正將他們自己與維京世界聯系起來,他們始終都是冰島人。但年輕人非常熱衷于維京,他們總是很努力的證明,自己可以容納這個事物。

Icelanders have always eaten this food – the famous cubes of rotten shark called hákarl are available at the average corner shop in Reykjavik – but as tourism outstrips agriculture and fishing, accounting for 31% of total export revenues in 2015, the younger generations have embraced the tourist-friendly Viking mantle, possibly even identifying more closely with this Netflix-friendly heritage.

被稱為“hákarl”的發酵鯊魚肉是冰島人著名食物,在雷克雅維克的普通街角店鋪都有售——但在這個旅游業勝過農業和漁業,2015年總出口收益中,旅游業占31%的國家,年輕一代已經接受了游客們喜歡的維京人說法。

But according to Byock, the actual history behind this food, and modern Icelanders’ relationship with it, is far more interesting than bushy beards and horned helmets.

但根據碧奧格的解釋,這個冰島美食背后的真正歷史,以及現代冰島人與這道美食的關系,比維京人的濃密胡須和角盔還要有趣得多。

When the first Scandinavians made their way to Iceland’s shores in the year 871 (give or take a couple of years – hence the title of that exhibit), they found a densely wooded island that seemed ripe for cultivation. But as settlers started showing up over the next 100 years, only really arriving in earnest around the year 1000, they slowly realised that all those birch forests they were cutting down to build and heat their houses weren’t going to grow back with their sheep grazing everywhere. And without the trees, the topsoil began to erode, making it difficult, and often impossible, to either grow crops or pasture their livestock.

斯堪的納維亞人最初在871年(或者是前后兩年——上述展覽由此得名)首次抵達冰島海岸,他們發現了一個樹木繁茂,看上去耕種條件很成熟的島嶼。接下來100年定居者們開始展露頭角,但真正直到約1000年時,他們慢慢地意識到,所有那些他們砍伐下來用來建造和加熱房屋的樺樹森林,將不會長回來,而他們的羊只有到處找草吃。沒有了樹木,表層土開始腐蝕,很難甚至常常是無法種農作物或放養家畜。

They were far enough from the European mainland to make importing food just as impossible, and so Icelandic culture and society evolved in a state of near constant hunger, always on the verge of famine, having to make do with whatever they were able to scrounge and forage, and using manure in the absence of wood for heating and cooking.

他們遠離歐洲大陸,進口食物是不可能的,所以冰島文化和社會的演變過程處于一種幾乎長期饑餓、近乎饑荒的狀態,他們不得不用乞討搜尋到的任何東西來做食物,在沒有木材的情況下用糞肥來加熱、烹飪。

“Let’s say there’s a storm,” Byock said. “A whale is dead, sinks to the bottom, the gases blow up, it floats to shore, you get tonnes and tonnes of meat. What do you do? Well, first, you kill each other to see who gets it, then you bring it up, you get these barrels of whey and drop huge chunks of whale into it.”

"比如說有風暴來襲,"碧奧格說。"一條鯨魚死了,沉到海底,氣體上升,它浮到岸邊,這樣你就獲得了數公噸的肉。你會怎么做?好吧,首先,大家會相互廝殺來看誰最終得手,然后你把它拿起來,用幾桶乳清粉,把大塊鯨魚肉放在里面。

Icelanders’ ancestors were tough all right, but they weren’t Vikings. They were starving farmers, doing whatever it took to stay alive.

冰島人的祖先是彪悍沒錯,但他們不是維京人。他們是挨餓的農民,不顧一切的想盡辦法要存活下來。

Though Icelanders don’t eat beached whale (hvalreki) anymore, this scavenging approach to food is also the origin of hákarl, a milder version of the skate I had in Akureyri. Though the flesh of the huge Greenland shark is usually toxic to humans – the high concentration of urea leads to skin, eye and respiratory distress – once it’s allowed to rot a bit, traditionally in a hole on the beach (nowadays in plastic containers), it becomes a valuable source of protein. Rays and other large sharks are equally toxic, and equally edible when left to ferment or rot. And since it’s all already rotten, it keeps pretty well, too.

盡管冰島人不再吃擱淺的鯨魚,但這種清洗食物的方法也是發酵鯊魚肉(hákarl)的源頭。發酵鯊魚肉類似腐爛的鰩魚肉。盡管巨型格陵蘭鯊的魚肉通常對人類有毒——高濃度尿素會導致皮膚、眼睛和呼吸困難——一旦等到它變得腐爛一些,通常保存是在海灘上的一個洞里(如今是在塑料容器里),它會變成一種很珍貴的蛋白質來源。蝠鲼和其他大鯊魚也同樣有毒,在發酵或腐爛后同樣可食用。而且既然它都已經腐爛了,保存起來就很方便咯。

So for centuries, this foul-tasting food was the difference between life and death. Icelanders’ ability to deal with the really, really horrible taste was as important to the existence and eventual success of Iceland as the actual Vikings’ ability to deal with travel- and battle-related hardship was to mainland Scandinavia’s.

所以多個世紀以來,這種腐爛口味的食物代表著生與死的分別。冰島人處理真正糟糕味道的能力對于冰島存活和最終成功的重要性,正如真正的維京人處理旅行和戰爭引發困境的能力對于斯堪的納維亞大陸一樣重要。

With two million people a year travelling to the country, the national diet has been changing over the past three decades, leaning much more heavily towards pizzas, pasta and burgers. But this is still a small nation, just 330,000 people, and their traditions are not only tourist attractions; they’re what anchor these displaced Scandinavians to their past, and each other.

隨著每年逾兩百萬人的游客訪問量,這個國家的飲食在過去三十年來已經發生了變化,更多地傾向于吃披薩、意大利面和漢堡包。但這里仍然是個小國家,只有33萬人口,他們的傳統不僅僅在于旅游景點;他們維系著這些異地定居的斯堪的納維亞人的過去與現在。

Every Christmas, and every Þorri – the old Icelandic month that corresponds to the end of January and beginning of February – is given over to traditional foods, which, in addition to all the rotten fish, includes rams testicles (súrsaðir hrútspungar), boiled sheep’s heads with the wool singed off (svið), smoked mutton (hangikjöt), seal flippers (seishreifar) and whale blubber cured in sour milk (súr hvalur).

每年圣誕節和每年仲冬(Þorri)——古老的冰島月份,對應1月底和2月初——人們盡享傳統美食,除了所有腐爛的魚肉之外,還包括公羊睪丸(súrsaðir hrútspungar)、煮羊頭(svið)、熏羊肉(hangikjöt)、海豹鰭狀肢(seishreifar)和酸牛奶浸鯨脂(súr hvalur)。

You can find hot springs like the famous Blue Lagoon and the ice fields that cover the island’s interior in any number of places, but I know of no other country whose history, evolution and survival are so consciously intertwined and celebrated in its food.

你可以在任何地方找到類似冰島的藍湖溫泉(Blue Lagoon),和覆蓋冰島內陸的冰原,但我知道,與歷史、演變和人民生存如此緊密聯系的傳統美食只有冰島才有。

And to be honest, the lamb face is pretty good.

而且老實說,羊臉肉的味道相當不錯。
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