By Matt Kwong - Monday, December 24, 2012 - 0 Comments
Ask a Canadian: vinarterta has become a holiday staple in the homes of Icelandic expats
Few Christmas traditions are as culturally sacred to Canada’s ethnic Icelanders – nor as touchy, for that matter – as the baking of a 150-year-old fruitcake.
Vinarterta is a hefty, layered torte customarily served in rectangular slices, usually with coffee, and ideally by a doting Amma (grandmother). In thousands of kitchens across the continent this week, members of the Icelandic diaspora are almost guaranteed to devour the prune-filled, shortbread-layered confection.
But ask a native Icelander in the capital of Reykjavik how one prepares a classic vinarterta and expect a bemused look, and maybe requests to explain what that is. Put the same question to a Manitoban of Icelandic ancestry, though, and you’ll get an earful.
“When I first came to Canada, I was asked by people working with my husband at the University of Manitoba for my special vinarterta recipe,” recalls Margret Björgvinsdóttir, who left Reykjavik for Winnipeg in 1978. “I had to tell them the truth – that I really didn’t know what they were talking about.”