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.
Local, quality grains and vegetables, lamb and cured meats, wild berries and of course the all-important fish are staples of the Norwegian kitchen. Not to mention the weekend porridge or waffles with brown cheese.
Around the world, millions of people are regularly enjoying seafood originating from the Norwegian coast. But nothing beats the taste and texture of a fish that has just been caught from the cold and clear waters.
The “Norwegian foodprints” badge will help you find high-quality Norwegian food, made from scratch.
A feast of flavours awaits in Norway’s restaurant. Here you will find several different varieties, from seafood restaurants with local produce to exquisite tastes originating from all over the world.
The Michelin guide 2016 came with good news for Norwegian chefs. The restaurant Maaemo in Oslo was awarded three stars (an upgrade from two stars in last years guide). This is the first time a Norwegian restaurant has been given this many stars in the guide.
From hipster watering holes in Oslo, to local microbreweries in smaller communities. Norwegian pubs and bars offers a great variety.
Norwegian lamb is especially tender and juicy, due to the fact that most of the animals graze in outlying pastures, with vast expanses of untouched nature, clean running water, and protein-rich vegetation consisting of different herbs.
In addition, the lamb and sheep make an invaluable contribution to the Norwegian cultural landscape when grazing, as they keep the vegetation in check and thereby maintain natural diversity.
An important principle for sustainable meat production is that the whole animal should be exploited after being slaughtered, and a lot of Norwegian lamb and sheep delicacies are made from more peculiar parts of the animal.
The fenalår from Norway is now a geographically protected name for the slow-cured lamb's leg, based on Norway’s long history of hanging mutton legs to dry in mountain air to preserve meat for use during the winter.
Pinnekjøtt, racks of lamb or mutton cured in brine or sea salt, is popular during Christmas in Fjord Norway.
If you’re really lucky (and a bit courageous), you will get to taste a sheep’s head. The dish is called “smalahove” in Norwegian, and is considered a delicacy in certain parts of the country.
Autumn is hunting season in Norway, and game is often served both in restaurants and Norwegian homes. Here are four Norwegian specialities you should try.
1. MOOSE. Moose meat is a delicacy when prepared correctly, and the taste is often compared to venison or elk.
2. REINDEER. Located in the far north are more than 250,000 reindeer. The indigenous Sami people are especially known for reindeer herding. The meat is lean and delicious.
3. DEER. The deer population has outgrown the moose in Norwegian forests. Deer is often served as steak, but can also be smoked, dried or cured.
4. GROUSE. The grouse is the most sought-after bird for hunters in Norway. The breast of young grouse is tender, with a mild gamey taste. The legs and the rest of the bird have a more intense flavour.
Norwegian fishermen have sold seafood to other nations since the 12th century, and today Norway is the second largest exporter in the world. Icy and clean waters and cold air has made Norwegian seafood a sellable asset.
However, to experience our seafood at its finest and freshest, you should visit a fish market or a restaurant in one of the coastal towns. Or, even better, catch your own meal. The arctic cod, for instance, is at its best during winter, when many travellers go north to experience the northern lights.
Traditional seafood meals include the famous smoked salmon, smoked trout, and gravlax. Stockfish (“tørrfisk” in Norwegian) was Norway’s largest export article for many years, and is still a source of pride in the Northern areas, especially Lofoten.
Rakfisk, fermented trout, is another traditional dish for the brave, as is mølje – cod served with liver and roe – in Northern Norway. Other kinds of seafood are more closely associated with the south of Norway, such as shrimp from the Barents sea, crab and mussels.
Norway is known for a select few inventions, and the ostehøvel, meaning cheese slicer, is amongst the most prominent ones. It was invented by Thor Bjørklund in the 1920s, in case you wondered.
The most famous cheese in Norway has traditionally been the brunost, the brown cheese – caramelised whey cheese, quite similar to fudge. Norwegians normally eat it on bread and waffles. It’s not for everyone, however, and many foreigners try it only once.
But the last few years, the most interesting Norwegian cheesemongers have made a much greater variety of products – everything from camembert, blue cheese, chevre and brie to traditional products such as gamalost and pultost. Again, the clean and cold Norwegian surroundings provide the perfect platform for producing goat and cow milk of high quality. Today, you can find more than 150 small-scale cheese makers, spread from the south of Norway to Finnmark in the north. Several of them are run by young and ambitious cheese makers who are eager to experiment with techniques, spices and ripening.
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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