During the Fall 2016 Semester, USM Honors Freshmen who enrolled in the HON-101 Icelandic Sagas and Skalds class and the associated lab experienced Icelandic (and the greater North Atlantic) culture right here in Maine. As part of the lab activities, students enjoyed Icelandic style cuisine, learned about the International Marine Terminal, met local artist and USM graduate Justin Levesque, and met some friendly Icelandic horses. Here are some of those stories:
First and foremost, we extend a special takk fyrir to USM Grad, photographer, and fellow Iceland admirer, Justin Levesque! Justin visited the class to talk about his experience as a visiting artist aboard an Eimskip container ship, the MV Selfoss, that left Maine and arrived in Iceland nine days later. Many of these students participated in his Icelandx207 Container Exhibit in Congress Square Park and here on the USM Portland Campus. See more of his work here! Follow him on Facebook here!
Adventure #1: Dinner at Vinland Restaurant
“I had a wonderful evening and really enjoyed trying the crazy new food. I still can’t believe I ate beef heart! The first picture is one of the fermented oat cakes we were served as an appetizer. These were delicious! The second is of my coffee… not very exotic, but worth mentioning because the little bowl thing next to it was used to serve maple sugar. I’m not entirely certain what maple sugar is, but I can assure you it tastes great in coffee. So glad I went. The chefs were kind and informative and the restaurant was lovely. Thanks for the experience!” -Jessica P. (English Major)
“I really enjoyed our dinner at Vinland! I’m a really picky eater, so it was good for me to try foods outside of my comfort zone. I really liked the fermented oat cake with all of the green, grass-looking stuff on top. It looked strange, but it was really tasty. I will say, however, I was not a fan of the beef heart. It freaked me out. It’s really cool that a chef from Maine and a chef from [Greenland] were able to collaborate and create these dishes for us, it’s an experience I won’t easily forget.” –Lexi B. (Political Science Major)
“I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone at dinner on Wednesday night. I don’t experiment with new foods often and I especially was worried about eating the fish, as I have never liked eating any kind of fish. Since it was such a rare opportunity I tried all of the dishes, even though I was intimidated by them (especially the fish dishes!). Thankfully for me, Monk fish does not have a strong fish flavor and is probably the closest I’ll ever come to eating something similar to lobster. I tried lamb and custard for the first time following the fish. It was defiantly a memorable night trying things I had never and [may] never again try.” -Harley R. (Political Science Major)
“The monkfish tasted like haddock. I looked up what a monkfish was later and it turned out to be an angler fish. Interesting that it looks ugly but tastes delicious.” -Cole T. (Geography/Anthropology Major)
“I didn’t know what to expect when we went to the Vinland because I didn’t have much knowledge of what Icelandic food is like. I was pleasantly surprised! The ambiance was inviting and the staff was very friendly. When we first had the appetizers, I didn’t know what exactly I was eating but just knew it was very tasty and had a distinct taste. The following courses were both good and bad. I have previously been a vegetarian for about seven years and went into this experience wanting to be adventurous with new meats but could not bring myself to try the beef heart. Besides that course, I enjoyed all of the food.” -Aisy T. (Linguistics Major)
Adventure #2: Maine Port Authority
“Eimskip’s presence in Maine is a boon of multiple facets. It represents a global connection for the close-knit Maine communities; opportunities for the growing Maine economy; and recognition in an ever important arctic region. Moreover, the company represents the importance of an international connection to the youth and student population of Maine. A connection that needs to be sought out and fought for, no matter the ultimate realm that it represents – whether it is volunteering with refugees or newly arrived immigrants, studying abroad in a country half-way around the world, or interning at a company that has a international focus. For citizens of a state that often feels so far disconnected from the rest of the country and world, any opportunity to interact with the global community should be explored.” – Nate Shehata, Export Documentation Specialist – Eimskip
Adventure #3: Visit to Boulder Ridge Icelandics
Boulder Ridge Icelandics is a small hobby Icelandic Horse farm tucked away in Southern Maine. Icelandic horses are known for their distinctive personalities, extra gait – the tölt, and small but strong physique.
This experience was inspired by Hrafnkels Saga, a story predicated on an Icelandic horse by the name of Freyfaxi.
Want to see the tölt in action? Head over to our Facebook page for a video!
Takk fyrir to everyone who helped make these experiences a reality. Until next fall, við sjáumst!