As my husband and I touched down in Iceland we were greeted by the all-consuming darkness and biting cold wind. The hope of seeing the northern lights burned within us and made the cold seem non-existent. As night fell after a day of exploring Reykjavik, we suited up to drive out into the deep night to chase the northern lights. Our gracious guide drove us for hours upon hours but the fog and clouds never allowed the lights to peek out.
On Day 3 as the icy rain poured down on us, the fog got heavier; the ride in our monster truck jeep became more dismal by the minute. As we drove around the south coast, we managed to visit the impressive waterfalls but could not walk on the glacier. Finally, we took a break stopping at a local lunch spot. As I entered I was greeted by a cafeteria-style dining room. Not just any old “mess” hall, but one with floor to ceiling windows that made it seem as though you were sitting amongst the snow covered mountains. I ordered an obligatory cup of hot chocolate in hopes of starting to thaw out. Staring at the menu, I was drawn to the Icelandic “Meat Soup.” Upon ordering, our guide mentioned that Icelandic “Meat Soup” was his favorite meal. He explained his grandmother used to make it for him all time and I jumped at the chance to continue the conversation by asking him many questions on how she made it. I began to warm up just watching this large burly man turn into a child as he explained, with a wistful smile, his memories of his grandmothers cooking. Our conversation was interrupted by the arrival of our soup. Appearing through the steam was the sight of hearty potatoes, carrots, and lamb in a clear broth. Soon enough, the icy disappointment of our weather tribulations began to melt away as I began to understand that one good meal could change the tone of a trip. That night, the clouds started clearing and we took a chance by going out and again chasing the elusive lights. Fortunately, this time we were successful. For me, the brightest lights were not seen in the sky, but rather on my plate.