The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisine to Icelandic Food
Iceland is an isolated country in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, however the five countries with the most similar food are on the European mainland. They also consistently rank among the nations with the highest standards of living. With the exception of France, these countries have particularly cold climates and get a lot of snowfall.
- Norway is another mountainous country that has a lot of coastline on the North Atlantic Ocean. Both countries share a love for fish, especially gravlax (cured salmon) and lutefisk (dried fish). In addition, Norway and Iceland excel in preserving and fermenting their food. Both nations also showcase a love for hearty stews. However, people from Iceland tend to eat more lamb than in Norweigans, since they do more sheep farming.
- Switzerland is the only landlocked country on this list, so it does not eat nearly as much fish. However, the other parts of their diet still share many similarities. Both countries have a fondness for dairy products, especially cheese. Furthermore, in both nations soups and stews, such as Swiss barley soup and Icelandic kjötsúpa, provide comfort during their extremely chilly winters.
- Sweden is yet another Germanic country on this list. Its culinary scene shares several traits with Icelandic cuisine. In Sweden, dishes like gravlax, pickled herring, and crayfish feature prominently, mirroring Iceland’s affinity for seafood-based delicacies. Additionally, Sweden’s love for open-faced sandwiches (smörgås) parallels Iceland’s traditional open-faced rye bread (rugbrauð) with toppings.
- Finland is another Nordic country that borders the Baltic Sea on this list. Both countries showcase a strong connection to nature and rely on local, seasonal ingredients. Finnish cuisine features dishes like kalakukko (fish-filled rye bread) and karjalanpiirakka (rye pastry with rice or potato filling), which bear similarities to traditional Icelandic offerings. Moreover, both countries appreciate the simplicity of smoked and cured fish.
- France is another country where people often eat seafood. Both countries are famous for their fish stews, like bouillabaisse in France and Plokkfiskur in Iceland. However, pork is more commonly eaten in France. Besides fish, chicken is another popular meat in these countries, often paired with local fresh vegetables and potatoes. In addition, both countries consume a lot of dairy products as well.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Icelandic Food
Four of the five countries with the least similar food to Iceland are located in Africa and their climates are significantly warmer. Moreover, these countries are significantly less developed than Iceland. With the exception of Cambodia, these nations have little to no coastline.
- South Sudan is a landlocked country in Africa. Cassava is the staple food, however the country eats its share of sorghum as well. Porridge is one of the most popular dishes in the country. Unlike Iceland, fish is not as commonly eaten in South Sudan, although the Nile River runs through it.
- Democratic Republic of Congo borders South Sudan. The country features vast swathes of dense rainforests. Cassava is the dominant staple food in the country. While fish is the most commonly consumed meat in both countries, Iceland’s fish are from the ocean, not rivers and lakes. Furthermore, Iceland in general eats far more meat.
- Chad is mostly desert land. It is a landlocked country in Africa. Although both countries are sparsely populated, Chad’s cuisine is far different. It heavily relies on staple foods like millet, sorghum, rice, corn, and beans, which form the basis of its dishes. Fresh fruits and vegetables are more prominent in Chad.
- Central African Republic is located to the south of Chad, so its climate is not as dry. Cassava and yam are two of the most commonly eaten ingredients in the country. Furthermore, taro and bananas make up a much greater share of the diet in Central African Republic than in the country of Iceland.
- Cambodia has the least similar food to Iceland in Asia. The Cambodian diet is heavily based in rice and cassava. Cambodian cuisine makes use of different herbs and spices than Iceland. including lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves, to create a unique flavor profile. Furthermore, many of the country’s Buddhists avoid eating meat.
Iceland’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Pelagic Fish, Chicken
Fruit: Banana, Apple
Vegetable: Tomato, Onion
Starch: Wheat, Potato
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.