Everyone has to eat, and enjoys food to some degree. While I am definitely no food expert, I can say that I LOVE to eat. Having not known anything about Norwegian culture prior to heading there, I had no idea what was considered Norwegian cuisine. In my two-and-a-half weeks there, I got to eat some of the most interesting and delicious food I’ve ever had in my life. I will be offering some of my personal opinions on the food I ate, and sharing about some of the things I learned about Norwegian culture. In no way is anything I’m saying representative of everyone/all of Norway. Oh, and warning: the pictures in this post will definitely make you drool. Do not continue reading if you are hungry. If you wanted an in depth review on one of the amazing restaurants I got to eat at in Oslo, my dear friend Anders Husa wrote a post on it on his blog, http://andershusa.com/vaaghals-restaurant-oslo. (@andershusa), more about how I met him in a later post! The next three pictures are from the restaurant, see the full set on his blog!
|Chicken liver mousse with juniper berry gel and oatmeal chips from the Vaaghals Restaurant in Oslo. One of our five starters, and it was just...wow...|
|Apple glazed ox short ribs with burnt onions, caramelized onion puree, baked redbeets, and Norwegian new potatoes with grain mustard. This was our main and it was so good I passed out for a brief moment.|
|Norwegian strawberries with almond and rye crumble and a sorbet of fresh cheese. The best dessert out of the three desserts. I could have eaten ten more bowls of these...|
One of the many cool things that I learned about Norwegian culture was their high standard of living. Therefore, their food was something to be valued. Norwegians did not eat things out of season; so while we can buy any fruit/vegetable any time of the year in North America, they could not. But as a result of that, every in-season ingredient is high quality and fresh. One thing I didn’t expect at all was that Norway has the best strawberries in the world. Due to the temperature, length of seasons, and climate, Norway has the most optimal conditions for growing strawberries. I had the opportunity to try some myself and holy moly I had no idea strawberries that sweet even existed. I got to engage with food in a whole new way in Norway, as I saw exactly where my food came from before it arrived at my table. During our time in Bergen, a chef named Thibault took us to his diver, who brought us on his boat to forage for seafood. I got to pull up huge nets full of crabs, fish, sea urchins, scallops, and clams. Then Thibault opened the sea urchin and scallop ON THE BOAT and served it to us, just like that. LIKE WHATTTTT?! Every chef that I encountered loved food, and their relationship with the food was incredible. Things like never wasting their food, creating new dishes based on whatever ingredients were freshest, and using local ingredients as often as possible because they firmly believed in the quality of Norwegian grown ingredients, were some of the practices that were extremely admirable to observe.
|This was just "some leftovers" given to us by the diver we went to forage fresh seafood with. A variation of Focaccia and king crab legs.|
I got to try several foods in Norway that I have never had in my life: reindeer, brown cheese, and whale. I had reindeer as jerky, and it comes from the indigenous people of Northern Norway, the Sami people. They are the only people allowed to herd reindeer in certain regions of the Nordic countries. Reindeer jerky was similar to beef jerky except the flavour was richer – and I love rich flavours, so naturally I loved it. Brown cheese is the remnants of regular white cheese, boiled until the milk sugars become caramelized. So even though it’s cheese, it has a similar texture to caramel and can actually be used as a spread for things like waffles and toast. Whale is something that you might have heard about in Norway, but it is not a common food there. Whale cannot be found in every restaurant and most Norwegians don’t even like whale. There are very specific regulations regarding whale-hunting so that the practice is done ethically and properly. I tried it in a burger because I was really curious about its taste and also because I just want to try foods of all different cultures. I don’t know if it was just me but the taste was kind of similar to chicken liver. I like chicken liver but the taste was pretty distinct and unlike a lot of foreign meats that just “taste like chicken.” This one definitely did not taste like chicken haha.
|The delicious fish soup from the famous fish market in Stavanger, the food capital of Norway. @fisketorgetstavanger|
The last thing I want to say about the food is Norway’s main common specialty: the seafood. I found out that Japan (where we all believe has the best fish ever (because of sushi)), actually gets their fish from Norway! MIND BLOWN! I admit I have pretty low standards when it comes to food, so I will tend to think a lot of foods taste good and I am not the best judge of taste/quality. Most of the time I admittedly cannot tell between a $10 version of a food and a $50 version of the same food (well sometimes there is no difference, and it’s just the branding/ambiance of the restaurant), but the seafood in Norway was seriously on a different taste level – level “DANGGGGGGG D-D-D-DELICIOUS” (obviously I am the grand master of creating fictional levels for arbitrary things). Norway is surrounded by water, and the fjords enter the country so even cities in the centre of the country will have a lot of water surrounding the city. So naturally, all the seafood is extremely fresh. Even though I’ve been to Chinese restaurants that let you select the fish you want to eat from the tank, it is not even close to fish fresh from the sea. Every single seafood dish I had in Norway made my day. So my day was being made a lot… order literally any seafood in Norway and I guarantee that you will not regret it (unless you ordered something really expensive, and found the same thing in the restaurant next door for cheaper. Then it’s your fault. Sorry)!
You might have not heard too much about the food in Norway, but perhaps you’ve heard about how beautiful the landscapes and sights in Norway are. My next post will touch on some of those sights that I saw, because holy cow Norway took my breath away. But more on that next post!