Alright, so chances are that you don’t think of “glorious food” when you think of Norway. In fact you may not think of food at all, and are now wondering, “What do people even eat there?” Never fear, because you are about to learn! This series of posts will take you on a tour of some of the wacky and wonderful Norwegian foods I have encountered so far, talk about some Norwegian food trends, and give you a look inside a Norwegian grocery store!
First, some typical Norwegian Foods:
- If you think of fish when you think of Norway, then you’re not wrong! Thanks to its islands and fjords, Norway has over 63,000 miles of coastline, which means lots of access to the ocean and its wildlife. From whale steaks to crab to salmon, Norway has an astounding array of seafood. Common grocery store staples include fiskekaker, or fish cakes, and powdered fiskesuppe, or fish soup, as well as a huge assortment of salmon. Here in Bergen, we have the famous Bryggen Fish Market which is chock-full of fresh fish that you can take home or have cooked into a variety of amazing dishes on the spot!
- I’ll be the first to admit, this sounds a little gross, but hear me out. Brown cheese, or brunost, is made from whey, milk, and cream that has been cooked down until it begins to caramelize, giving it a very distinctive savory-sweet flavor. While I didn’t dislike it, it definitely has a unique taste that I think requires some getting used to! It can be made with cow’s or goat’s milk, but the most common kind is a blend of the two. Brunost is usually eaten at either breakfast or kvelds, which is a small, snack-like meal eaten just before bed. Norwegians like it on waffles, or served with strawberry jam on a piece of bread.
- So, technically, Tran is not a food, but it is so common in Norway there’s no way I could leave it off the list. Tran is cod liver oil, and comes in two flavors: plain and, for some crazy reason, citrus. Almost every Norwegian child has to take a spoonful every day in “every month that includes an ‘R’,” and for good reason. Tran is a great source of Omega 3’s, Vitamin A, and, most importantly, Vitamin D. It rains an average of 230 days per year in Bergen, which makes it very hard to get Vitamin D from the sun here, and I’m already feeling the effects. Hopefully, my new bottle of Tran gets me back in the swing of things soon!
- The bread here, much to the distress of my German suitemates, is….weird. Most of it is dark, chewy rye bread or light, baguette style bread that gets hard and stale in a couple of days. The most common, and practical, form of “bread” I’ve found here is crisp bread, or flat brød as it is referred to in the grocery store. These are basically cracker like sheets that come in several kinds: whole wheat, rye, and high protein to name a few. It seems pretty common for Norwegians to make sandwiches (which are always open-face) with this “crisp bread” rather than toast or actual bread, and in my opinion it actually tastes much better than the other bread I have found here.