Fish, seafood and "matpakke".
Norway has long traditions for fishing with our long coastline, and we eat a lot of fish. Salmon is especially popular. Sushi is a popular dish. Did you know that salmon is Norway’s second largest export good, after oil? You might think that in the old days fish were only for people living by the coast, but also inland fish was an important part of the diet. Fish can also be found in lakes and rivers.
If you want to eat like a modern Norwegian, websites such as Matprat have a popular collection of recipes that are used in the daily life of Norwegians.
The daily menu in a normal Norwegian home can be quite international. Norwegians have embraced food from all over the world, but often with a Norwegian “twist” to it. We like to have boiled potatoes with all kinds of food, although rice and pasta have become more normal in modern times. A typical Norwegian dinner can be everything from sausages and potatoes, to an Asian wok, or perhaps an Italian pasta dish. Meatballs are also a popular dish, eaten with gravy and potatoes.
A typical example of a Norwegian twist to international food is the Norwegian version of Taco’s , which can be anything with meat wrapped in tortillas or taco shells. Usually the sides are sour cream, tomato, cucumber, corn, lettuce, red onions, paprika and cheese and different Tex-Mex spices and sauces. Mexicans might not be impressed, but in Norway this is one of the most popular weekend foods.
When the children at Norgesskolen is asked to describe what it means to be Norwegian, many says that ”to be Norwegian is to love hot dogs, ice cream, Solo, potatoes, milk chocolate, wrapped lunch with bread, and eat a lot of bread”. The typical Norwegian lunch is wrapped bread with spread and we call it “matpakke”.
This is probably true. Hot dogs are very popular in Norway and are sold at every kiosk or gas station. We are also very proud of Freia’s tasty milk chocolate . Solo is a soft drink with orange flavor that “all” Norwegians love. During Easter break, many Norwegian migrate up to the mountains skiing. A perfect skiing trip includes hot chocolate, Solo and Kvikk-Lunch, the perfect Norwegian hiking chocolate. If the hike is longer, a break with sandwiches or hot dogs grilled by the fire is required.
Norway is most likely the country in the world that is most found of frozen pizzas. ”Grandiosa” is the most popular brand and the approximately 5 million people living in Norway, buy 24 million Grandiosa pizzas in one year.
There is probably not many other countries in the world that are as found of bread as Norway either. We eat bread for breakfast and lunch. We might have bread on the side for dinner, and as an evening snack. A typical Norwegian sandwich consists of one slice of bread with a thin layer of spread, or perhaps ham or cheese with cucumber or paprika. The Norwegian cheese that is most famous outside Norway is “Jarlsberg” , but the most popular cheese in Norway is a milder sort called “Norvegia” . Schools do not provide food, and Norwegian school children bring premade sandwiches in a lunch box, and many adults bring a lunch box with sandwiches to work. It is normal to have a carrot or an apple as a side to the lunch box.
Tine “brunost” (goat cheese). Photo: Tine
“Brunost” and “Prim” is also used on bread and is typical for Norway. We are very proud of “the brown cheese”, Brunosten . It is a goat cheese with a dark brown color and the taste is bitter-sweet. You can add some jam on it to make it even sweeter. Prim is a sweet spread with a similar taste.
This is a day for celebration, and we hold nothing back. The day often starts with a big and festive breakfast, including Norwegian salmon, scrambled eggs, “fenalår”, bread, cakes and champagne. During the day it’s common to eat a record number of hot dogs and ice cream, as well as cakes and more champagne.
Summer is a time for lighter food. Norwegian strawberries are by Norwegians themselves considered to be the best in the world. Many have fruit treet in ther garden and harvest apples and other fruit during summer, which can be eaten as they are or made into delicious apple cake.
Shrimps are a classic during summer, even if they really taste best during winter. They are sold cooked and eaten cold, on white bread with majonaise and lemon. Preferably with white wine in the glass.
‘Fårikål’ is Norway’s national dish, as proclaimed at our Government’s wepages. It consists of lamb meat slowly cooked with cabbage, served with potatoes.
At Christmas time we eat a lot of traditional Norwegian food. There are four main alternatives to choose from for Christmas dinner. They are called “Ribbe”, “Lutefisk”, “Pinnekjøtt”, and “Smalahove”. What you eat depends on traditions and where in Norway you live.
“Ribbe” might be the most popular Christmas dinner. It consists of ribs from pig, and is very fatty. In the old days this Christmas meal should give energy for the rest of the winter. There is several side dishes to the “Ribbe”. Most common is sauerkraut, patties, white sausages, and potatoes.
“Lutefisk” is dried cod that has been soaked in a lye solution for several days to rehydrate it. It is then boiled or baked and served with butter, salt, and pepper. Some people like it, but one rarely eats it more than once a year.
“Pinnekjøtt” is made from ribs of lamb or mutton that has been salted and dried. It is served with mashed kohlrabi and thick sausages.
“Smalahove” is made from a sheep’s head. The skin and fleece of the head is torched, and the head is salted, sometimes smoked, and dried. This dish is normal in the western part of Norway.
Christmas is also a time for sweets and cookies, and kransekake and krumkake are two of the most poular ones. Leading up to Christmas man Norwegians make their own gingerbread house, which is decorated with candy and crushed and eaten after Christmas is over.
Waffles and Lefse
If you visit one on Norways churches abroad, you will get warm waffles with jam. It’s a classic that never goes out of style, and can be eaten with jam and sour cream, Norwegian goat cheese, regurlar cheese or just as it is. Lefser are also aclassic, and can be eaten with sugar and butter, or with something salty like smoked salmon and sour cream.
Writer: Maria Vang Ormhaug Photo: TINE