I often get asked by friends and acquaintances, “what exactly is Norwegian food? What is a typical dish?” This is not easily answered, because it depends where in Norway you’re from. Norway is a large country – despite its tiny population of only under 5 million people – and it’s divided by large mountains, fjords, valleys and rivers. There are SO many national dishes, regional specialties and favorite meals that I could probably spend a lifetime writing about them all (and hopefully will!). This is what makes my country so fascinating though, and I am lucky because I will have plenty of material for my blog!
Tradition is very important to Norwegians, but tradition and our culture is also constantly changing. As I’m getting older, I’m becoming more and more interested in diving into the history of our food, culture and people and will be aiming to research and learn along with my readers. We as Norwegians, often don’t appreciate how rich the culinary history of Scandinavia is, and particularly in our own country. Hence many Norwegians will embrace the cuisines of other countries instead, and have adopted pizza, tacos and foods from the middle east as their favorite foods. Living in a big city like New York, I naturally get a fair share of international delicacies, and while I love and appreciate the flavors from these other countries, I have recently become determined and passionate about discovering my very own culture.
Personally, I’m from a small town called Sykkylven, which is situated in a region called “Møre og Romsdal” in the western part of Norway. The west coast is mostly known for it’s enormous fjords and waterfalls. From the Norse times, “Møre” meant “The land by the ocean”, and we’ve got lots of ocean! A large number of the population in this area live on islands and are dependent upon ferries which travel from the various islands to the mainland. The inner portion of the area is dominated by mountains, which attract a large number of tourists from around the world. Because the area is separated by islands and ocean, our cuisine is very varied, and each household has their “specialty”. Fish definitely dominates, naturally, because of our large coastline, and the fishing industry has always been a big part of the commercial life here. Preparations are varied, from fish soups to dumplings, using the innards, fish heads, smoked, prepared in lye (“lutefisk” anyone?), grilled, baked or dried… we eat it all. Of course, most of you will think SMOKED SALMON, and while we certainly produce our fair share of this, Norwegian cuisine is so much more. One of my favorites is fried trout (preferably caught in the small river not too far from my childhood home) with sour cream and pickled cucumbers.. and of course; our famous boiled potatoes that accompany 90% of Norwegian meals 🙂
With the above dish I would drink a Gruner Veltliner or a Chablis – producer of your choice..Riesling with these delicate fish dishes is also a good choice.
I will be covering more in depth about the regional differences in cooking in Norway and perhaps in a more methodical fashion – but for now, I leave you with a stunning picture of “Trollveggen” (The Troll wall), one of the most famous tourist sites in the region where I’m from. It is the tallest vertical rockface in Europe and very popular with rock climbers and base jumpers. Now that’s what we call mountains!!