Iceland’s national animal is the Gyrfalcon. It’s national flower is Mountain Avens. We also discovered it’s national confectionary. It is the marshmallow. They are everywhere, hanging out on hillsides, farms, and along the roadside. Each type, designated by its color, has their own personality. Some of them are confident and extroverted while others are timid and bashful. I decided to photograph them all, though I was told the blue ones can be quite difficult to find.
The first type we came across was the very common white marshmallow, sort of like the ones you can buy at the grocery store. Except there is one major difference. It’s their size, perhaps 4 feet in diameter.
The next most common, also easily found, are the black ones. These are licorice flavored.
The pink ones were a little elusive. They are coveted by Icelandic boys and girls because they taste like cotton candy.
The blue ones were tough to find. I would spot one. Then, by the time I got close enough to photograph, it would be gone. This happened on many occasions until I came up with the idea of hiding behind some trees, stealthily bringing the camera to my eye, and firing away.
Turns out these taste like blueberry. Yum, my favorite fruit.
Our second to last flavor to photograph was lemon (yellow). We would spot them on a hillside, partying like only lemon marshmallows can. By the time we would get there, they would be green. Finally, we were able to catch a few before they changed their color.
Lastly, I’ve been told the light green ones taste a bit like spearmint. Not my favorite flavor, I stayed far away from them. I found a bunch of them in front of a farmhouse. Using my super telephoto, I bagged them.
By now you must be asking why would Iceland have all these marshmallows strewn throughout the countryside. After quite some research, I found out.
Well, back in the days, farmers had a big problem with the trolls. They would come down from the mountains, and take animals and small children for eating.
As one might expect, the farmers did not like that at all, so they got together and tried to come up with a plan; how to get the trolls to leave the animals and children alone. Then one farmer had an idea. “Everyone likes sweets, right?” The other farmers agreed with that, so they started to make gigantic marshmallows and spread them on the fields. That worked as planed, the trolls took the marshmallows instead of living things!
Makes sense to me.
Now, for the rest of the story.
Before cows can eat hay (very high in cellulose) it has to be processed – fermented in a low oxygen environment. It’s a form of predigestion to help the cows glean as many nutrients from the hay as possible. Instead of moving the hay to a central location it’s done in situ.
Not as interesting as trolls.
Remember, it’s all about the light.
Update from our September 2019 trip: I was hoping to see and visit with my marshmallow friends. As we are now into fall there were less of my mallow friends about, getting ready to hibernate for the winter. But, to my great surprise, there was a new species I had not seen before. I can imagine it happening one evening, out in the fields a licorice marshmallow started feeling a bit lonely. He’d always fancied the spearmint but was unsure how she would respond. Then one morning a new species was begot, half licorice and half spearmint. I’m very glad to witness this new creation.