Heimir Jónasson  Headshot

One Clinton Please!

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There is always a queue in front of this restaurant, but that really doesn't matter. They serve you so fast that I can promise you that you will get your meal within one minute and within that minute you will have paid for you meal as well. It is the most popular takeaway in Iceland. And no, it's not MacDonalds - they've already closed down in Iceland, probably the only country in the world where they went out of business. We are talking about a hot dog stand by the name 'The Best Hot Dogs in Town' or Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur - an Icelandic classic dating back to 1937.

It's a different day for Eldhús. We have been out and about in nature for most of its journey, with no one around. Now we are surrounded by people, so again and again we have curious faces at the windows. We parked Eldhús with the door facing the hot dog stand. This meant that there were people standing in front of Eldhús eating their hot dogs. They thought this house had been put up for them to walk into to have a nice hot dog inside. But this was reserved for our guests of today, Jesper and Mette from Denmark and Alistair from Ireland.

"Denmark - oh my god, are we going to show them how to eat hot dogs?" In the minds of Icelanders, Denmark is the country of hot dog stands. And Jesper, who is a candidate for the National Congress in Denmark, will probably be experienced in eating hot dogs. Politicians usually are. Well, at least the politicians in Iceland eat a lot of hot dogs. They sometimes come walking over from the parliament building around the corner and have a hot dog at Bæjarins beztu.

Mette is a teacher and has been supporting Danish teachers in Iceland for a few months, but when they're not visiting Iceland, they live in Vamdrup near to Kolding in Denmark. Danish hot dogs are longer and the bread is served on the side. Mette claims they are the best hot dogs in the world (this was, of course, before she tried what we had to offer). What Mette and Jesper didn't know was that we had called on Magnea, a charming 17-year-old hot dog seller, the fourth generation to man this family-owned hot dog stand. After Jesper had eaten his third hot dog, we were relieved. He obviously loved them! What a relief! Maybe we can open up an Icelandic hot dog stand in Copenhagen one day.

Magnea told us the hot dog stand will be 75 years old this year. When it started, the hot dogs were served with a glass of fresh milk and no bread. Now we eat it with fried and raw onions, ketchup, mustard and remoulade. We call it having a hot dog "with everything" or like we say in Icelandic "eina með öllu". Alistair had a hot dog with everything just like Mette and Jesper and liked it very much. Alistair is a different kind of traveller, he likes to travel when fewer tourist are around. He's hitchhiking around Iceland and sometimes takes the bus. He wants to see the northern lights and will probably see them tonight as they have been very visible the last couple of days.

It was a good day at the hot dog stand, we can continue being proud of our hot dogs after this experience. In my opinion there should be certain restaurant rules in Reykjavík for tourists.

Tourists should not be allowed to visit any restaurant before they have gone to Bæjarins Beztu - it is such an important stop in Iceland's food culture. Even Bill Clinton found this an important address to go to on his visit to Iceland one day. He didn't want "eina með öllu" he just wanted one with mustard. Since then you can go to Bæjarins beztu and say "one Clinton please!" and you will be served a hot dog only with mustard. I think that's ruining a good hot dog. Maybe Clinton should just stick to McDonalds.

Our last stop with Eldhús will be tomorrow in Reykjavík on the corner of the main shopping street and we will not be having a burger.