Today is the second of three consecutive days of excitement in Iceland. Today we celebrate Sprengidagur, which directly translates to ‘Explosion Day’. Despite the name, this is not a day of fireworks but rather of exploding your gut.
The day goes by many names around the world; Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), or Fatty Tuesday. It comes from a Christian tradition and happens in the leadup to the restrictive period of Lent. It is the last day you’re allowed to indulge before the ritual fasting of the coming season.
In the French tradition, there are Carnival celebrations, in the U.K., there are pancakes with lemon and sugar; In Iceland, there is eating salted lamb until you feel like your stomach is about to explode.
See also: An Introduction to Icelandic Cuisine
Traditional Sprengidagur Food
The salted lamb is either served on the side or chopped up and put in the soup. The soup is also served with root vegetables, making it a starchy and nutritious treat.
The dish is very filling and people eat as much as they can to prepare for fasting. Which is why they feel like they’ve exploded their guts and call the day Explosion Day.
The perfect dessert after your salted meat feast is leftover treats from yesterday’s Cream Bun Day.
See also: What is Iceland’s Cream Bun Day
Salted meat and split pea soup
If you fancy a traditional Icelandic salty treat on Fatty Tuesday, follow the below recipe. For the authentic experience remember to gorge yourself until you explode!
1kg salted lamb meat
250g split yellow peas
1 onion, chopped
500g rutabaga, peeled and chopped
500g potatoes, peeled and chopped
250g carrots, peeled and chopped
2tsp dried thyme
To make the cooking time faster you can soak the split peas in water overnight, although it’s not necessary to do so.
The water, split peas, onion and thyme are placed in a pot and brought to a boil. Let it simmer for about 45 minutes with the lid on.
Place one or two bits of meat in the pot and boil for 30 more minutes. Boil the rest of the meat in another pot, do not boil all of the meat in the soup to avoid making it too salty. If you choose to boil all the meat separately remember to add a pinch of salt to the soup.
Towards the end of the boiling time check on the soup, stir it and add water if needed. Now add the rutabaga and potatoes and boil for an additional 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
You can also add a bit of bacon to the soup if you wish. This is especially recommended if you boil the meat separately. Simply leave all the meat out for a vegan split pea soup.
Don’t worry if you’ve made a portion too large to eat in one sitting, this dish keeps well and is just as delicious reheated.