around the head of the 68-mile-long Oslofjord, Oslo is probably the most
spacious city in the world. Its 175-square-mile metropolitan area
consists of over 75 percent forests and five percent water. Its fine
deep harbor, Pipervika, stretches into the heart of the city and from it
leave ferries to Denmark and Germany.
Cuisine is a cornerstone
of every culture, and in Norway, traditional food draws heavily on the
raw materials available throughout the country—its mountains, wilderness
and waters. Unlike the country's continental counterparts, Norwegian
fare has a stronger focus on fish and game. According to the Norwegian
Institute of Public Health, the Norwegian population is among the
healthiest in the world, and diet plays a big role in it.
Before 1905, Norway had a rather poor standard of living. The wealth
Norway enjoys today only arrived a little over 100 years ago. Most
Norwegians ate porridge three to five times a day two to three centuries
ago. The country had marginal agriculture and couldn’t raise enough
crops to feed everyone. Cooks had only a small selection of ingredients
to work with. But things began to improve in 1983. And by 1993,
Norwegian chefs won top honors at a food competition in Lyon, France.
Ingredients used in the traditional Norwegian kitchen come from the
region. With a higher standard of living, Norwegians don’t mind paying
more for quality ingredients. Aromas come from berries and apples, which
are better because of Norway’s warm days. Cooks use wild mushrooms to
add special flavor to their dishes.
Norwegians use seasonings to add savory flavors, including dill and
caraway seed, which grows wild in Norway. Old Norwegian cooking used
shredded horseradish root, especially with salmon, thyme, and
oregano (imported by monks in the Middle Ages), which grows wild around
Oslo. Traditional Norwegian food lacks excitement. The older generation
likes this, but the younger generation likes contrasting flavors.
State controlled, independent dairy producers produce a myriad of dairy
products, one of which, Jarlsberg cheese, they export. Gjetost is a
brown goat cheese with an amber color and creamy texture. Cheesemakers
add carmelized sugar and cream to it to give it it’s distinctive color
and flavor. Another traditional cheese is smelly Gammelost, or old
cheese. Made from skim milk, aged for three months, it matures from
outside to inside. Caraway seed is the main ingredient of Pultost, or
Since rye grows easily in Norway, it’s no wonder that it’s the most
popular bread. It normally comes in two varieties—Knekkebrod, or
grain-pattern rye, and Flatbrod, or thin rye that’s hard and dry and
cracks easily. But there are also hearty wheat and whole grain
varieties. Traditional Norwegian breads are coarse and hard. Thin hard
breads, used in smorbrod, are made of whole grain or potato.
Seafood is the heart and soul of Norwegian cuisine. Norwegians love
their fish and consume seafood an average of three to four times a
week.. Norwegian cooks poach, smoke, grill, fry, salt and dry, and cure
a wide variety of seafood, including cod, lobster, and monkfish. Popular
Norwegian meals include Røkt laks (smoked salmon), fiskesuppe (fish
soup), sild (pickled herring) and gravlaks (also gravlax or gravlochs),
made with salmon filets marinated in a dill/cognac mixture and served
with sweet mustard sauce.
Game in Norway ranges from goose to duck to reindeer. Often, Norwegian
cooks grill or roast game and served it with traditional Norwegian side
dishes, such as raspeballer, or minced fish, fresh or salted, added to
TRADITIONAL NORWEGIAN MEALS Norwegian breakfasts
Norwegian breakfasts tend to revolve around the sea, with meals
including smoked salmon, fish in various sauces and marinades, such as
sardines in mustard sauce or tomato sauce, or pickled herring, smoked
whitefish served with hard-boiled eggs or carviar, called kaviar in
Norwegian. Dig in to lefse, which is the soft, Norwegian flatbread made
of flour and milk or cream. Norwegians like to eat it with Jarlsberg
cheese, butter, fruit jam or any of Norway’s tasty smoked fishes.
Come midday, make a sandwich of brown goat's cheese (geitost) or slices
of salmon on lefse. Every child and most adults tuck their lunch fare
into a bag , or matpakke, which literally means packed food, before
going to school or work. Open-faced sandwiches are a tradition in
Scandinavia. Popular options in Norway include a buttered slice of
toast, typically whole-grain rye, topped with meatballs, herring, fish
filets or liver pate. Surprisingly, hot dog lunches are also a favorite.
A typical Norwegian eats 100 a year, almost one every three days.
Dinner, the only hot meal of the day, is usually simple, consisting of
hot meat, boiled potatoes and vegetables. Most Norwegians eat dinner at
After a hearty Norwegian meal, diners indulge in a sweet milk dish
called gomme or rømmegrøt, which is a sour cream porridge. Layer cake
stuffed with whipped cream and jam or apple cakes are also popular. For
the 17th of May, Norwegians serve rhubarb, often made into a compote
with layers of egg cream. But one of the most popular desserts is apple
crumble—a puree of apples and caramelized bread crumbs, layered with
cream. With hot tea or coffee, Norwegians often serve almond macaroon
rings or iron-shaped cookies rolled into cones in classic Norwegian
The average Norwegian consumes 40 gallons or 160 quarts of milk per
year. Markets carry milk from two dairy companies, Tine melk and Q melk.
But 4.5 percent Norwegian beer and "blande," a cheap drink made from
water and soured whey are also popular. Norway also imports wine which
can be pricey.
Aqavit is Norway's famous exported liquor made from potatoes. Distillers
flavor it with caraway seed or star anise, using bags of spices. After
the warm alcohol vapors pass through the bags, they age it in wood
barrels. The darker variety, called aquavit, must pass across the
equator. Norwegians serve another variety, golden Linie Aquavit, at
room temperature to enhance its spicey aroma. This one must pass twice
across the equator. Cold-pressed, clear Aquavit isn’t aged but is served
slightly chilled with herring, cold meat, and fatty dishes, much like
vodka is in Sweden. Norwegians serve the best dark Aquavit, which ages
for several years, after dinner.
Every year about 95 000 people die in
Sweden and, according to the law, everyone must be buried. There must be
room for everyone in the cemeteries, therefore the future needs of space
have to be predicted. Because of this funerals must be part of the
the early Middle Ages, driven by famine at home and the promise of
wealth to be had in other lands, the Vikings set out from Scandinavia to
conquer parts of England, Ireland, France, Russia, and even Turkey.
Bolstered by their successes, the Vikings pushed westward, eventually
crossing the North Atlantic and founding settlements in Iceland,
Greenland, and Newfoundland in Canada. Read
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