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Tasting the unexpected: 5 foods to try in Norway

Tasting the unexpected: 5 foods to try in Norway

Tasting the unexpected: 5 foods to try in Norway
July 30
14:16 2017


Few tourists travel to Norway for the food, and yet the country has some memorable culinary traditions you shouldn’t miss in between hiking its glacier-topped mountains and gazing at its fjords.

Scandinavia is famous for its herring and smoked salmon, but Norway has by far the biggest coastline among the neighbors, so of course seafood is a big draw. That includes some unusual stuff like cod tongues and whale meat — Norway is one of the few places in the world where its consumption is allowed. Most vegetables are imported, but the country makes up for that, in part, with its wild mushrooms and berries.

Here are five foods to taste in Norway:

Brown cheese (brunost). Though not for everyone, this sweet-savory cheese dominates Norwegian breakfast and lunch tables and pairs particularly well with sour rye bread. It’s made with whey left over from cheesemaking — traditional goat’s milk, but also cow’s milk today — cooked down until caramelized and then sold in blocks.

Wild berries. Lingonberries (tyttebær), strawberries (jordbær) and black currants (solbær) are just a few of the forest treasures Norwegians seek out summer to fall. Cloudberries (multer), a mild, tart and pale version of raspberries, grow above the Arctic Circle and star in the dessert multekrem, where the crunchy berries are suspended in sweetened whipped cream.

Reindeer (reinkjøtt). Scandinavia’s indigenous Sami people still herd reindeer over Norway’s northern regions, following them to their feeding grounds until slaughter in the fall. The venison is served in a creamy stew or roasted and paired with gravy and lingonberries on special occasions.

Stockfish (Tørrfisk). Dried cod is one of Norway’s biggest exports, and not just for your grandpa’s Christmas lutefisk. Cod is also salted and dried to make salt cod, and stockfish is picturesquely hung to air dry on wooden racks throughout the northern Lofoten Islands.

Waffles (vafler). You’ll see Norway’s thin, heart-shaped waffles everywhere, stacked on cafe counters to accompany coffee throughout the day. Served with jam and sour cream or brunost, they were traditionally made in cast-iron molds over the fire.

— Tara Duggan, tduggan@sfchronicle.com



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