Food in Old Icelandic prose texts

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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Information on food, banquets, and cooking in general can be found in a wide range of primary sources from medieval Iceland, which include archaeological findings, sagas, the


, skaldic poetry, and legal texts. This is because food touches on various aspects of individual and social life. One finds mentions of meat such as livestock and poultry (Snorri Sturluson,

Óláfs saga helga

, ch. 163;

Vatnsdæla saga

, ch. 44), game, whales, seals, fish (e.g., stockfish, flatfish, haddock, lumpfish, halibut, pike, salmon), and dairy products (milk, butter, buttermilk, skyr, whey, cheese, as shown for example in

Egils saga Skallagrímssonar

, ch. 43, and

Eyrbyggja saga

, ch. 45). “Ármóðr had the table set for them, on which were placed large bowls full of skyr”, reads

Egils saga

2455 words

Citation: Maraschi, Andrea. "Food in Old Icelandic prose texts". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 June 2023 [, accessed 15 June 2024.]

19720 Food in Old Icelandic prose texts 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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