The last few years of living in Stavanger, Norway have opened me up to the beauty of Norwegian gastronomy.
Here is a short list of traditional and modern Norwegian foodstuffs to sample in case you want to eat your way through Norway and enjoy the good, the better and the amazing from the Norwegian table.
Norwegian strawberries: Strawberry season is a short, but high point in summer. I’ve never been a huge fan of strawberries but the Norwegian variety is to die for! Sweet and slightly tart — try them and see what I mean.
Smalahove: It looks a lot scarier than it tastes. I suppose food which looks back at you while you eat it has a tendency to do that, right? However, eating smalahove definitely makes for a good photo opportunity to take home with you. I hear the cheek cavity contains the best meat.
Lutefisk: Beloved and feared, lutefisk is a Christmas dish many in Norway enjoy. Try it and judge for yourself.
Meatballs: Norwegian “meatcakes” are cousins to the Swedish variety, but better.
Lefse Norwegian flatbreads: Similar to Mexican tortillas. Usually served with butter and sugar, sometimes cinnamon too. Occasionally made with potato.
Smoked salmon: The best in the world, hands down. Stavanger has a smoke house which still does smoking the old way.
Hot dogs and sausages: Norwegians love hot dogs. Stavanger’s A. Idsøe butchery is the oldest butcher in Norway and sells the best hotdogs and sausages I’ve ever had. They are 90-95% meat plus many are gluten-free. If you ever make it to Stavanger, pop in for hot dogs (called pølse in Norwegian), dried and cured meats plus excellent Norwegian cold cuts (generally called pålegg).
Pickled fish: Herring and other types of fish are pickled in Norway and eaten year round but especially during the Christmas season.
Leverpostei: Liver pate is normally served on brown bread then topped with sliced red onions or sweet pickles. Protein rich and very tasty if you like pate.
Fish pudding and fish balls: The fishy versions of meatloaf and meatballs. Béchamel sauce is a common accompaniment.
If you are feeling even more adventurous, check out these last two suggestions as well…
Game meats and game off cuts are quite popular in Norway, especially in the fall and winter. Commonly eaten animals are reindeer, deer, moose, venison.
Norway has some of the best dairy Europe has to offer which is a good thing because there is so much around most of the time. Butter here is to die for, especially the stuff coming from Røros. Yogurt is very popular in Norway, although you will have a hard time finding the full fat stuff. Most of the yogurt sold in Norway is low-fat or fat-free, but comes in a variety of flavors not commonly found in North America.