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Norway Cuisine
 
 
 

General

Norwegian cuisine is in its traditional form largely based on the raw materials readily available in a country dominated by mountains, wilderness and the sea. Hence, it differs in many respects from its continental counterparts with a stronger focus on game and fish.

Modern Norwegian cuisine, although still strongly influenced by its traditional background, now bears the marks of globalisation: Pastas, pizzas and the like are as common as meatballs and cod as staple foods, and urban restaurants sport the same selection you would expect to find in any western European city.

Seafood

The one traditional Norwegian dish with a claim to international popularity is the smoked salmon. It is now a major export and could be considered the most important Norwegian contribution to modern international cuisine. Smoked salmon exists traditionally in many varieties and is often served with scrambled eggs, dill, sandwiches or mustard sauce. Close to smoked salmon is gravlaks (literally "dug salmon"), which is salt-and-sugar-cured salmon seasoned with dill and other herbs and spices. Gravlaks is often sold under more sales-friendly names internationally. A more peculiar Norwegian fish dish is Rakfisk, which consists of fermented trout, a culinary relation of Swedish surströmming.

The largest Norwegian food export in the past has been Tørrfisk (Clipfish) – stockfish in English, in Portuguese 'bacalhau' – dried codfish. The Atlantic cod variety known as skrei because of its migrating habits, has been a source of wealth for millennia, fished annually in what is known as the 'Lofotfiske' after the island chain of 'Lofoten'. Tørrfisk has been a staple food internationally for centuries, in particular on the Iberian peninsula and the African coast. Both during the age of sail and in the industrial age, tørrfisk played a part in world history as an enabling food for cross-Atlantic trade and the slave trade triangle.

A large number of fish dishes are popular today, based a large variety of species, such as salmon, cod, herring, sardine products and mackerel. Seafood is used fresh, smoked, salted or pickled. Variations on creamed seafood soups are common along the coastline.

Due to its availability, seafood dishes along the coast are usually based on fresh produce, cooked by steaming and very lightly spiced with herbs, pepper and salt. While most coastal Norwegians consider the head, caviar sack and liver an inseparable part of a steamed seafood meal, most inland restaurants will spare diners this part of the experience. A number of the species available have traditionally been avoided or reserved for bait, but most common seafood is part of the modern menu.

Meat & Game

High cuisine is very reliant on game, such as moose, reindeer and fowl. These meats are often hunted and sold or passed around as gifts, but are also available at shops nationwide, and tend to be served at social occasions. Because these meats have a distinct, strong taste, they will often be served with rich sauces spiced with crushed juniper berries, and a sour-sweet jam of lingonberries on the side.

Preserved meat and sausages come in a bewildering variety of regional variations, and are usually accompanied by sour cream dishes and flat bread or wheat/potato wraps. Particularly sought after delicacies include the fenalår, a slow-cured lamb's leg, and morr, usually a smoked cured sausage, though the exact definition may vary regionally. Due to a partial survival of an early medieval taboo against touching dead horses, eating horse meat was nearly unheard of until recent decades, though it does find some use in sausages.

Lamb's meat and is very popular in autumn, mainly used in fårikål (mutton stew with cabbage). Pinnekjøtt, cured and sometimes smoked mutton ribs that is steamed for several hours, is traditionally served as Christmas dinner in the western parts of Norway. Another Western specialty is smalahove, a smoked lamb's head.


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