I asked, you said yes and here I am - introducing a post series on Norwegian culture. Typisk Norsk (= Typically Norwegian) will be all about the little quirks of Norwegians that make it so interesting to live in this country! Now, this won't be a weekly thing but I'll make sure to pick a topic at least once a month to keep it interesting so make sure to watch out for Typisk Norsk on Bloglovin, Twitter or Facebook!
And what better way to start off this series is there than to talk about Norwegian cuisine? Or rather, those unique and possibly disgusting dishes that you can only find in the land of the Vikings!
First things first, Norwegians love coffee and ever since I started working full-time, I'm addicted to that stuff too. Most Norwegians like their coffee plain black but sometimes they add a little extra:
Karsk is a "cocktail" of coffee and booze, preferably vodka or other clear liqueur. It's quite popular in the region around Trondheim but I know that people also enjoy it in the rural parts of Northern Norway.
And there's a special way of preparing it too: You put a coin into a cup, add as much coffee as you like and finally pour liqueur into the cup until you can see the coin again. Disgusting? Maybe!
Norwegian cuisine doesn't really know cheese. As a German who is used to French and Dutch cheese being available in every supermarket, the variety of Norwegian cheese has been a total disappointment for me when I first moved here.
Basically, Norwegians only know two kinds of cheese: white and brown one.
And while I've figured out where to buy real cheese over the years (and don't hesitate to spend several hundreds of euros on Dutch cheese whenever once a year there's an international food market in town), there's actually one Norwegian cheese that I've grown to like: coffee cheese.
Now coffee cheese is probably more a Sami thing than a Norwegian one and can be found in Northern Sweden and Finland as well.
Often it's made from reindeer milk and it has a really squeaky taste to it. You basically slice it into small cubes and pour them into your coffee or leave them on the side while you're drinking coffee.
It might sound weird but I can highly recommend you to try it!
Another typically Norwegian cheese is brown cheese. Now I don't like this one at all and it just proves to me that Norwegian cuisine is weird.
Brown cheese is sweet and tastes like caramel and well, Norwegians certainly like their sweet stuff.
You can even find sugar in some bread types so to me (you know the German who is used to French and Dutch cheese), sweet bread with sweet cheese is not something I'd like to eat for breakfast - or ever for that matter.
Apart from brown cheese sandwiches, the most popular way of eating this cheese is actually on waffles. Waffles are another staple of Norwegian cuisine and together with jam and cream, brown cheese waffles can be found in pretty much every cafe around the country.
Let's get from the sweet to the hearty dishes of Norwegian cuisine and start with sheep heads. Yes, you read that right. Norwegians actually eat sheep heads, so called smalahove, or at least, they used to.
It was a common dish back when Norway was a poor farmer's country but there are still some people around who try to keep that tradition alive - especially at Christmas.
I'm certainly not one of them.
Fårikål or "sheep in cabbage" is another popular sheep dish Norwegians like to eat, preferably during autumn though.
Basically, they cook mutton meat, bones and cabbage in a casserole for a few hours and then serve it with potatoes. It's one of those dishes from the old days that literally makes me want to b*** - I really am not a big fan of red meat and game...
Another dish that's commonly eaten in Norway at Christmas is lutefisk or "lye fish".
It is made from lye and stockfish, so that kind of fish that hangs outside to "try" for several months in spring on special fish drying racks that you can see all over the Lofoten Islands and also Tromso. For this, cod is most commonly used.
The texture of lutefisk is quite gelatinous which makes it special to say the least...
Tørrfisk then again is the dried fish (stockfish) that doesn't undergo any special procedures other than the fermentation while it hangs outside to dry.
It smells incredibly fishy though and I'll forever hate that person who bought a bag of tørrfisk on the plane from Bodø to Tromsø back in autumn last year. Let's just say, turbulences don't go well with the smell of stinky fish...
It does tell a lot about Norwegians though that they sell dried fish in little snack bags and serve them in bars as if they were potato chips...
Let's get to a dish I actually like to eat - tacos! They are a big thing in Norway and basically, 90% of the population eats tacos on Taco Friday each week.
Literally every store has discounts on taco ingredients on the weekends.
Now tacos aren't really that big in Germany and the first time I experienced Taco Friday was on a student exchange to Trondheim when I was 16. My guest family prepared and ate the meal together before everyone headed out for a night in town.
I think it's a nice tradition to get families to eat together at least once a week and even though Norwegian tacos might not be like Mexican tacos, this is one of the few "Norwegian" dishes I really enjoy!
Last but not least - Norwegians nowadays don't eat very healthy. While lutefisk and smalahove were staples in Norwegian households until maybe the 1960s, things have changed and the old traditional dishes have been replaced with frozen pizza.
That particular brand, Grandiosa, is the typical Norwegian frozen pizza you can find in every store and while it's cheaper than Dr. Oetker's, it's certainly not better.
Grandiosa has become a staple in every student household though and people actually refine it by adding garlic sauce and/or tacos on top. Taco pizzas by the way can not only be found in student dorms but also in actual restaurants.
How weird is that?!
There's a lot more to Norwegian cuisine but I tried to focus on the particularly special and interesting dishes. If you'd like to read more about Norwegian and/or Sami cuisine though, let me know in a comment below!
What do you think about Norwegian cuisine? Is there anything you'd like to try?
Pin it for later!