About the changing world all around us

I have been tagged by Zhu to post about what I love or hate about Norwegian food. Thanks for the invitation, there is a lot to tell but I have done my best! I have taken my assignment very seriously!

Norwegian and Scandinavian food
I have to say that I really like most of the food in Scandinavia. The cuisine is pretty basic and easy to prepare. There are of course some things I am not too crazy about, like liver, or something called ‘bloodpudding’ believe me its not a dessert. Most of the food is good though.

The ever famous Lutefisk - a Chrsitmas dish which I prepared!

The ever famous Lutefisk - a Chrsitmas dish which I prepared!

Fish and shellfish
I am especially fond of the selection of fresh fish. With a coastline which stretches the length of the country, and one of the richest fishing waters in the world, the supply of fresh fish is seemingly endless.

Salmon is of course a classic

Salmon is of course a classic

Norway is of course famous for it’s salmon, which I love and provides us with important omega 3 fat. Then next is its torsk, known to the rest of the world as cod, which is abundant and delicious especially in casseroles. And of course I love all sorts of shellfish which is readily available here by the sea.

Delicous delicacy, Seasonal Crawfish

Delicous delicacy, Seasonal Crawfish

Brown cheese??
Another food which is Norwegian and I love is brunost, or brown goat cheese. This cheese is unlike any other kind of goat cheese I have tasted, it is not strong like Chévre, its usually mild and sweet. Of course it varies with the aging process, so some of it can be stronger but it is typically sweet and contains a lot of iron. Here you see us eating it even on waffles – another typical Scandinavian food I love! And blueberries too! Notice the traditional heart shape.

Brown goat cheese on heart shaped waffles with blueberries and cream

Brown goat cheese on heart shaped waffles with blueberries and cream

We’ve got bread bread and more bread
The bread here is also very good, it is usually not presliced and does not contain preservatives. It is dense compared with most presliced bread, and you are satisfied for a longer time after eating it because it contains a lot of whole grains. White bread here is looked at almost as a dessert or at least a luxury. In Norway they recognise that white bread is stripped of most of its nutritional value. After getting used to the bread I think that whole grain bread has more taste and I don’t much care for white bread anymore, especially the commercial light and fluffy totally empty type like for example Wonder in the USA. My Great Aunt used to joke, you wonder what is in it!!!

Typical lunch or breakfast matpakke

Typical lunch or breakfast "matpakke"

So what don’t I like. Well they do eat quite a lot of that bread here. Normally breakfast consist of a couple slices of bread with meat or cheese on it, and lunch consists of a couple slices of bread with meat or cheese on it, and your middle of the day snack, well that often consists of a couple pieces of wasa cracker bread, with something spread on it….so basically you do get a bit bored of bread. And while I totally support brown bagging it, which is the normal way to have lunch at work (matpakke) I find a couple slices of bread without preservatives spread with your topping the night before or possibly in the morning a bit unappatising sometimes. I do prefer warm lunches and soups like I had in the USA. Of course the made at home lunch often contains more nutrition and less fat and calories.

Children eating their matpakke at the preschool.

Children eating their matpakke at the preschool.

The most important: togetherness
Lastly what I like best about eating here is HOW we eat. We sit together. One does not eat standing and does not leave the table before the others are finished. Also at work, at school, and in daycare. Especially in families it is important that everyone sits down at the same time together and children learn to be patient and polite, and to converse. Couples also have an opportunity to touch base in a busy day, and teenagers get reeled in for at least a half an hour of family time before they disappear – they know their family is there and we see them! Sometimes my children’s friends join us and this gives us an opportunity to get better aquainted with the others in their environment. So we know who our children are running with and what they are like as people.

My son (the 11) and friends eating homemade pizza together

My son (then 11) and friends eating homemade pizza together

This is about culture, and values, and putting togetherness first. It’s not that I didn’t eat with my family in the US, however they make a much bigger point of it in Norway, and it is much more universal. Its not just OUR family values, the entire community practices this habit in pretty much the same way. I feel it keeps us grounded and in touch.

Hotdogs taste best when grilled with family

Hotdogs taste best when grilled with family

To make a good example of this I will show you a better way of eating hotdogs…okay there is no table but we are together and enjoying the family environment. They do taste better that way. Thank you RennyBA for sharing your Norwegian lifestyle with us. Teaching us about your foods, cultures and traditions…and for photographing nearly every dinner I ever made 😉 You’re the best!

Read more about Norwegian food by visiting Renny’s posts:

Christmas Day Smorgasbord

Christmas Tree and Food Traditions in Norway

Scandinavian Delight seafood and fireworks

A Norwegian Fall Dish: Lamb and Cabbage

Comments on: "Things I love/hate about Norwegian food" (22)

  1. I think all the food looks terrific. I’m sure I would enjoy it very much. I would also get homesick for what I’m used to as well. Everyone does run 90 miles an hour here, but hubby and I have vowed to always find time to share our meals in peace. No television, radio or other distractions. Okay we don’t even have television. I understand what you are saying about family. It is indeed important.

    I’d probably get tired of all that bread too. I’d have to substitute lots of pasta. Just saying.

    Thanks for sharing a part of your life.

    Have a terrific day. Big hug to you and Renny. 🙂

    DianeCA: I do miss foods from America too. You can’t get a decent bagel here to save your life! There were also many things I had to learn to make from scratch if I was going to treat myself once in a while to american foods. But all in all I have found things I enjoy.

  2. I am not really fond of lutefisk or probably my father just prepared it the wrong way. I love salmon and I used to prepare it with bacon but not anymore since I am on a diet.

    I dont eat the food that I normally eat before and sometimes it almost took me an hour finding food that is less calories and stuff like that. It’s weird that healthy food is way expensive than the fatty ones.

    DianeCA: After a while I am sure you will find fresh healthy foods that you honeymooners enjoy and then the costs will go down. My son is a vegetarian, and he spends way less then his fellow students on food.

  3. cuteandcurls said:

    Hi there, just surfing through the neighbourhood and when i saw the word ‘FOOD’ I have got to visit your site and see while salivating 😀 I absolutely love salmon next to Cod Fish. You are blessed to live in Norway where its an abundance there ..over here in South East Asia, Salmon for a small piece is expensive but worth buying tho … may I know what sauce you made for your salmon?

    DianeCA: thanks for stopping by. Yes I love salmon too. I believe the sauce used is a basic hollandaise sauce. You can find a recipe here. I use normal salt though, not kosher. The vegetables were browned in the oven in the same pan as the fish and also make a nice juice which you see around under the fish. I do not drain this off as it is quite tasty. The fish is seasoned with parsley, lemon and pepper.

  4. I love European breads as well. Good thing I am here in the USA where I cannot eat it. My diet would go to he-double hockey sticks!

    DianeCA: Maybe, maybe not. It also has a lot more fiber so I can’t eat too much at one time.

  5. The famous blood pudding! 😆 French have it too, although the name is much less descriptive: we call it “boudin antillais” or sausage from the French Islands.

    I must say the food looks wonderful…! Especially the fresh bread, with the goat cheese. Yummy! I’m also a big fish eater and I can see I’d love the food in Norway.

    I think it’s great that you sit down to eat and share the moment. I can’t believe how fast people eat in North America… I’m so slow compared to everybody, but I’m enjoying!

    Thanks for doing your homework. A+!

  6. I agree with Zhu; This is an A+ work Diane!

    This is a good example of how fortunate I am to have found you and that you took the chance to come over with your boys and live with met. Obviously we share the same values and you have adjusted very well. Not only do you like our food and way of living, but your Norwegian is fluent and now you have finished your Master and got the job you was looking for. I’m proud of you and very happy for you and you know the rest of the family feels the same.

    This post is also an example of how it enriches my life: I’ve learned a lot of myself and Norway and of course our way of living by seeing it through your eyes.. You have question a lot of things I’ve never thought about and you have opened my eyes to a lot of my perceptions.

    It’s also an example of how brave and open-minded you are. I mean, Lutefisk is kind of special and now we eat it every Christmas Eve. You may say the same about Rakfisk (fermented fish) and now you join our traditional family gathering every year with joy.

    Your post explain the Norwegian food tradition and culture very well and I am so happy to have you in my life!

    DianeCA: thank you. I know that you experience Norwegian culture, and food as well in a new way since we have come over. And of course it must be very funny hearing how it is for an immigrant, I thought you might fall off the couch laughing when I read aloud my paragraph on bread bread and more bread! You do recognize this as typical Norwegian I think! Remember that many of these foods and traditions we have explored together, because although you have eaten the food your whole life it was first now that you had to move in to the kitchen and teach them to a person from the outside world. I will never forget how shocked I was when you made pinnekjøtt (translates into stick meat – but in reality it is dried smoked lamb which is steamed until tender before eating). I thought we were going to have to eat the birch sticks which in fact function as a steaming rack. I could not understand why on earth you were cooking the sticks, and could this really be safe??? Hahaha I assure my readers it is quite safe, and no we only eat the meat not the sticks! Go to RennyBA’s Terella to learn about pinnekjøtt!

  7. Some of those things look delicious to me. Of course, I’m a big fan of seafood.

    DianeCA: Thanks! fortunately I am a seafood lover too. And it probably helps that I prepare about 95% of our meals myself! I don’t make much I don’t like!

  8. Diane, this is a fantastic post.
    You have learned and adapted Norwegians food-traditions fast and also esay.
    Obviously you have learned a lot from your marvelous husband Renny and his family.
    Ecxept from Fish and Shellfish, we do have some slightly different traditions from our families meal traditions.
    In fact we love roasted liver much more than T-Bone steak. And we love Lamb-meat as “Får-i-kål” over mixed ox-meat. And wild fowels over chicken from cages.
    Cod is more known as Baccalao in Brazil, Portugal, Mexico and Italy. There are more recipies for Baccalao than days in the year in both Brazil and Portugal.
    Saumon, well smoked and “graved” we like, but not the natural ones they harvest these days. The Wild Saumon tastes better, we think, but they cost a fortune.
    The traditional Norwegian brown cheese, is in fact not a real cheese. The development are stoppet before it beacme a real cheese- hence the result is the unique taste – some mild, some sweet and even some bittersweet. You must try the different types.
    I can understand you are “fed-up” with the Norwegian “Matpakke”. Bread and bread and bread. But with todays varieties as spread, from fresh vegetables to shrimps, fish, meat, eggs, salads and cheese. Well, for my stomach, it works very well. OK, I’m grown up with it;-))
    Most of the tradition is build on the fact:
    How to heat your lunch when not at home or there are no restaurants nearby? And in small companies. They have no fascilities for cooking.
    If you look at some old, silent movies from US, they had the same habit as well;-)) At least blue collar workers.

    Let me summarize:
    This is a fabulous post.
    I now ponder what you will think about French Cooking. I warn you: It is so different depending on where you are. (Like in Norway – or US).

    We are so looking forward to see you late in the evening on August 3 and then stay together for several days with other nice and good friends.

    btw. No kittens yet – but it is just before

    DianeCA: thanks for your good additions. It took me two days to figure out how to attack this challenge as there is much more to say then can be covered in one post. As you well know since you are pretty much the same as Renny in taking photos of food hehehe. I felt a bit like the paparazzi had invaded my kitchen when I got you two crazy photographers together!!

  9. Very interesting Diane.. we must be on the same wave length I was thinking of posting some of my personal views on foods new to me and things visitors must try. I guess we can compare notes on food. LOL

    Oh and when you mention family values. I have notice them while in Norway. In fact I even commented to my fiance that I have yet to see a Norwegian family out with their kids and see the kids throwing a fit in the store or embarrassing their parents by being bad. I’m sure they have their moments but in public I have yet to see it.

  10. We connect with each other through food too Diane and what a spread there. Great post and see all the hearty smiles there 😀

  11. All your pictures male me hungry! I love all you presented ! The lunch attitude is the best way I think to respect each others around the table!

  12. I do love fresh fish and especially bread but it’s the being together part that is my favorite! Food should be an experience to enjoy. It seems like too many Americans rush through it. I guess I can’t figure out then why there’s such a weight problem here!

  13. great and tasty post!! the food look good, the kids are cute and the family is here to enjoy. What can we ask more?? Nothing, because this is real happiness.

  14. i’d very much have to agree with you on the liver and bloodpudding issues. likewise the bread and eating together. I love nice hearty, whole grain bread, so tasty. i think i’d like to try that cheese too. it sounds nice.

  15. Yup!!!! I get sick of bread too. My husband and kids eat a lot of bread. I agree with you when it comes to blood pudding. 😉
    Hugs to you and Renny!

  16. Looks a little like the northern German kitchen. In the south it’s different.

  17. Oh Wow! The dishes look too good to eat! I love salmon and it would be my wish to eat it fresh from the waters of Norway. 🙂

    Amazing…. we share the same family values.

  18. Noooo! Now you made me very, very hungry and it’s in the middle of the night – or rather morning. Hm. Time for breakfast even though I haven’t gone to bed yet? *giggles*

    To the fridge!!!!!!

  19. Those heart-shaped waffles with gjetost and berries remind me of the one my grandma makes. So good! I should try making them one of these days. Thanks for helping get the word out about Norwegian food!

  20. I love salmon, too, I have a dish of it at least once a week. Bread is something I could not do without, I am used to having it with coffee for breakfast, with cheese, meat or jam. There are so many breads from different bakers in Norway but I find it difficult to find one I like, now in 2011 bread is also getting quite expensive. I am originally from Finland and when visiting it, I find more breads I like. Also in Finland we have more dark rye bread made by sour dough rising method. I miss that. And I have still not prepared pinnekjøtt 🙂

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