Norway is a land of Mountains, Fijords and coastlines, which offers the ideal conditions to find ample supplies of fresh foods. The Norwegian Cuisine is a very healthy and flavoursome diet and of course fish plays a very important role, with most Norwegians eating fish three or four times a week, it is no wonder that the people of Norway are among of the healthiest in the world. The long coastline and many fijords, with their cold, clean water provides Norway with many varietes of fish such as Cod, Ling, Salmon, Herring and Brisling, and the norwegians cetainly know how to make the best use of their fish. They Fry, bake, poach, and grill the fresh fish or to keep it for longer periods they smoke it, salt it, air dry it, cure it, salt brine it or pickle it. Salted and dried fish (klippfisk) is used to make Bacalao which is popular in Northern Spain. Breakfast in Norway will often include fish, smoked salmon being the most popular, and this is delicious served alongside an omelet or even boiled eggs. Some traditional dishes of Norway are Torsk-Poached cod served with boiled potatoes and melted butter, Stekt fisk-braised fish which has been dusted with flour and braised in butter , normally served with potatoes, Fiskesuppe-A creamy, white, fishsoup, Sursild- pickled herring, these come in a variety of sauces, Lutefisk- Lyed fish, dried, salted fish steeped in Lye, Fiskeboller-Fish nuggets and Norwegian Gravlaks, made using fresh or frozen salmon and marinated in a dill mixture. Caviar is also very popular in Norway and is used as a sandwich spread or on open sandwiches as a garnish.
The Norwegians do not only eat fish , there are also a wide variety of meat dishes in Norway. Game meats such as reindeer, moose, duck and fowl are widely available and are served with rich sauces or made into delicious stews and casseoles. Juniper berries are used a lot in the preparation of game dishes as the distinctive flavour compliments the strong meats. Lamb and mutton are present in many of the country’s recipes, especially in the autumn in dishes such as fårikål- mutton stew with cabbage or Pinnekjøtt smoked or cured mutton ribs, which are a traditional Christmas feast in western parts of Norway , the lambs graze in pastures along the coast in unpolluted, natural enviroment with the protein-rich vegetation and crystal clear waters in the streams which makes the Norwegian lamb among the best in the world. Reindeers are farmed for their meat, but they live completely naturally. Traditional dishes of Norway would include Kjøttkaker-meatballs, served with potatoes and vegetables and lingonberries, Svinekoteletter-pork chops, Svinstek-roast pork, Lapskaus-meat and potato stew, Syltelabb-pig’s trotters, eaten around Christmas time, and Sodd- a soup-like meal made with mutton and meatballs. There are many different types of preserved meats and sausages available around Norway and they vary from region to region. The Norwegians have sausages made from almost every different kind of animal, reindeer, moose, and even horse! The different smoked and preserved meats and sausages will be found, along side fish, at the heavily laden tables, in restaurants and homes alike,presenting the ‘smorgasbord’, this is where you will be able to see the vast array of good food produced in Norway, and appreciate the enormous variety. A small sample of these would include the marinated herrings(in tomato sauce, in dill sauce, in mustard sauce, in curry sauce,in sour cream sauce), Gravlaks, Cured meats with a variety of sauces, whole trout, omelettes, crab, caviar, selection of salads, such as a mixed bean salad or cucumber salad, and a summer berry salad.
The lack of pastureland and the climate of Norway all go against the cultivation of many varieties of vegetables and fruits. Potatoes feature in most dishes in one form or another and they do grow a variety of tasty root vegetables. In autumn there are apples and berries galore, and they are so full of flavour that they are in great demand, the cooler climate lets them ripen slower and the long daylight hours through the summer combine to give the fruit more flavour. The climate is also responsible for having fewer insects thus reducing the need to use any pesticides, therefore the fruits and berries are as nature intended them to be. Spring fruit blossom time around Hardinger is a wonderful sight to see. The main fruits grown are apples, plums and strawberries. The long harsh winters meant that, traditionally, cattle could only be put out to pasture for a few short summer months, there was no way to keep the milk for long periods and therefore the milk had to be used to make provisions for the winter months. Butter was one product and was highly prized, the other being cheese, which is still made today in Norway. Some such cheeses are ‘Gammelost’ – meaning ‘old cheese’, it is a soft, creamy, blue cheese with a blue-green mould on the rind, ‘Geitost’ – Norway’s national cheese, a semi-hard cheese made from a blend of goat’s and cow’s milk, ‘Jarlsberg’ – well known throughout the world, it has the look of Swiss Emmental with it’s holes, ‘Nokkelost’ – a cow’s milk semi-hard cheese, and ‘Pultost’- made from sour milk and caraway seeds. Bread plays an important part in the Norwegian’s diet, most of the bread is coarse, wholegrain, and unsliced, (grovbrød), or with nuts and seeds (med nøtter og kjerner) or a dark rye (eller mørkt rugbrød). Bread will be eaten at breakfast time and at lunch, it is also used the large variety of open sandwiches with the bread playing an important role in the flavour not just the toppings.
The flavour-packed fruits and berries make a range of desserts, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples and the speciality ‘cloudberry’. On special occasions cloudberries will be served with whipped cream. Cakes and pastries include Norwegian almond cake, apple cake,Kransekake (an almond, ring- layered, wedding cake) and Mor Monsen Cake (mother monson cake) perfect with a cup of coffee, and talking of coffee the Norwegians love their coffee, in fact they are one the world’s leading consumers of coffee, it has to be a good coffee and well made, normally taken black. A cup of coffee will always be served after dinner, not during, with dessert.
At one time no farm was complete without a brewhouse for making beer, nowadays home brewing is still common but distilling is illegal. The beer market in Norway is dominated by two main breweries, Carlsberg-Ringnes and Hansa-Borg. The most popular beers being the pilsner type lager, but due to goverment restrictions beers above 4.7% abv are only available from licensed premises. At Christmas time the dark,malty ‘Juleøl’ becomes available, this was traditionally brewed at home as a strong ale. Akvavit, ‘Water of Life’, is a strong spirit, around 40%, made from distilling either grains or potatoes. After distilling it is flavoured with any of a number of spices such as Caraway, cardamon, fennel or citrus peel. It is taken in small, shot glasses, like the German and Austrian schnapps glasses.