The Kitchen and the Quinzee


Night One of the snowstorm from my room

Every year, the city of Akureyri hosts an “International Kitchen” event. All the foreigners in the town make foods from their home countries and bring bits of their cultures (books, bells, traditional dress, etc.) Each country has a table in a hall and people get to sample what everyone else has to offer. Everywhere from Thailand to Germany to Brazil was represented. We spent the days leading up to it making the absolute most of our kitchen. The Canadians made a dessert called Nanaimo bars, and my roommate and I made enchiladas. A few people saw this as politically motivated, but the truth is we just wanted to make enchiladas. It was a very diverse and tasty event which I recommend to whoever finds themselves in Akureyri.

The international kitchen took place during a break in the huge snowstorm that has been hovering over northern Iceland. Several days of nearly nonstop snow has been impressive and beautiful, but it has also been limiting. We spend several days almost entirely inside. Thankfully, this was just around the time several of our final papers were due. However, nearly a week of flat, grey skies, not being able to see the mountains, and getting hit in the face with ice every time you step out the door was getting a bit old.


They’re sitting on at least two feet of snow…


After this weekend, the clouds parted. So today, Emily taught us how to build a quinzee (or quinzhee). Today was a beautiful, clear day. It was below freezing for most of it, though. Even so, after breakfast, we went out to the field across from our house and started digging. A quinzee is basically a snow house. You create a huge pile of snow, let it settle, and then dig in again to hollow it out. It’s sort of like an igloo, but a little more survivalist (?).



So we shoveled, and packed, and took off layers, and put on warmer gloves, and shoveled some more. A couple people went into the forest to collect sticks for the structure, and in the end, many of us climbed on top of it to speed along the settling process. It was super cool to learn something new and useful. And it was sooooo nice to finally get out of the house for more than just moving from place to place.


This picture is actually from a walk I took after shoveling the quinzee…


Mt. Sulúr


haven’t been able to see the top of those mountains for days…


Starting to dig the quinzee out

After letting the snow pile settle for a couple hours, Emily and I went back outside and started to dig it out. The second phase starts out as more of a one man job, so while I stood by, I took some pictures of the exquisite gradients that were happening in the sky. After a while, Emily made enough of a burrow in the quinzee that I could help dig out the snow that she was moving from inside the pile to the doorway. I helped shovel and haul until Emma appeared and tapped in. She and I took turns shoveling while Emily dug halfway to China. A couple of our house mates came to supervise for a while, but didn’t stay long. Eventually, I went inside as it started to get dark (around 4:45). My roommates followed later, having completed their mission. Apparently they plan to sleep in it at some point.


One of the afore mentioned gradients


And another! Featuring the phase two team

By the way it’s cold. But hopefully it’s warmer in the quinzee.


This is how I learned to tuck your top pants layer OUTSIDE your boots…



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