29 January 2006

where it's made

One thing I love about living in a small island nation is that whenever something is made here, I know where it is made. The bread we buy is baked in the next zip code over, our milk is from the town over the mountain, the cheese is from towns we know and have been to, the cod liver oil (if you are into that kind of thing) is further around the bay from our house. We see where the fish comes in, and now I have also seen where the flour is ground.

A few days ago I was on my way downtown with friend and co-worker K, who had to stop by her dad's office to pick something up. I got visions of offices and desk jobs when she first said it though, instead of a flour and feed mill on the harbor. We drove down to the Eimskip warehouse, and there behind it were the familiar towers of a grain mill that I'd never noticed before. We parked next to the flour trucks getting hosed off, and passed through the warehouse door. Inside we made our way through the pallets stacked high with every kind of flour imaginable (looking for rice flour? They got you covered), all packaged in food-service sized sacks. They were bagging the store-bag size that day as well, and I got to see the assembly line, where the flour was pouring down from the sifting machinery, filling the bags, and getting sealed. The packed bags toddled their way down the conveyor belt under the watchful eye of a worker, then were shrink-wrapped in multiple packages and set on a pallet by another guy.

We continued through to the lab where we found K's dad, the verksmiðjustjóri (foreman is the best translation I can give..) himself, talking flour theory with another guy, both clad in the Icelandic workman-standard coverall. Her dad was just as a miller should be- tall, gruff-yet-genial, and with huge hands that look like they get the job done. He was happy to show me around some of the features of the place, so I got a bit of a tour. Off to one side was a full-sized industrial oven from Sweden, stacked with baking pans of all shapes and sizes on the top. In addition to producing flour, the company also imports various mixes from other countries, and on their website they have a bread of the month recipe, so they used the oven to test everything out. There was also a row of shelves lined with little tubs of flour, each labeled with a local flour customer. I recognized the names of several bakeries, as well as our downstairs neighbor, Dominos. They were all samples from the flour storage of each place, and they had a special machine to register the moisture content and protein of the samples, to make sure the flour was being stored properly.

K and I had other places to go, so we had to leave then, but now every time I open my bag of flour at home, I'll be able to imagine the stacks of flour on the pallets. The next time I buy a snúður from the bakery down the street, I'll know that K's dad is keeping an eye on the flour storage. It's a nice thought!

Ship sighting: One of the unfortunate side-effects of wintertime in a new country is new flu strains, so I have been sick a lot lately. I stayed home on Thursday, so I was able to take my daily mountain photo complete with Actual Oceangoing Action. Check the notes in the photo by hovering your mouse over it.

1 comment:

The Prima said...

awesome tour!