The change in attitude towards Norway’s food traditions has been formidable. From envying other nations to celebrating what is uniquely Norwegian in modern and untraditional ways.
When it comes to food and drink in Norway, a culinary revolution has quietly taken place in the last few years. In particular have both restaurants and ordinary kitchens seen a rise in local and organic food. This has a lot to do with the general increase in prosperity and willingness to spend money on high quality products, but also with a new-found pride in Norwegian food traditions and ingredients.
Food-wise, growing up in Norway in the 1970s and 80s was somewhat depressing. Norwegians went on holiday to Italy and France to enjoy their fantastic, tasty traditions. Even though the Norwegian kitchen was different, could we achieve the same sense of self-worth?
What really characterizes Norwegian cooking is to a large degree found in our rather unique agricultural customs: Sheep and goats that graze in outlying pastures along the coast and in the mountains. A cold and largely unpolluted climate ideal for growing fruit, berries and vegetables without extensive use of pesticides. Modest farms and smallholdings that produce milk, cheese and beef in healthy environments, virtually disease-free and subjected to strict laws and regulations when it comes to animal welfare. And of course the extensive coastline with long and rich seafood traditions.
The hard work to install pride in all levels of the food chain has given immediate results. Local products are seeing increased market shares in supermarkets, while new, small-scale producers of commodities such as cheese, honey, pastries and ecologically produced meats are popping up all over the country. Not to mention the hundreds of microbreweries experimenting with different styles and recipes for beer. And as Norway is amongst the world’s top three coffee consuming countries, it’s not so strange that we are constantly trying to brew the best coffees on the planet.
The variety of tastes and traditions can be experienced at one of the many local food festivals, such as Gladmat in Stavanger, Smak in Tromsø and Trøndersk matfestival in Trondheim.
At the same time, Norwegian chefs have obtained a reputation worldwide, with several wins and podium finishes in the international cooking competition Bocuse d’Or. And in 2016, Maaemo became the first Norwegian restaurant to get three out of three possible stars in the Michelin guide.
Proper dinner is finally served. You are more than welcome to join.
The rise in use of organic food has been an important political target in Norway, and in the last few years sustainable food consumption has gotten a big breakthrough.
In addition, the word “kortreist” (literally “short-travelled”) has found its way into Norwegian cooking dictionaries. The word implies producing and consuming more local foods that don’t rely heavily on emission-inducing transport. Many of the local producers combine ancient Norwegian food traditions with new scientific methods for developing the products in a safe environment.
The products can be bought locally, or through the large supermarket chains that are focusing more and more on higher quality products from local producers.
Many Norwegians also take pride in cooking from what they harvest themselves. During summer and autumn, the forests are brimming with fresh, wild berries and tasty mushrooms, and harvesting them is seen as a recreational activity.
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