05 April 2011

Norwegian Lunch

Every country has it's traditional dishes.  The Japanese have their sushi.  The Mexicans have their enchiladas.  The Germans have their sauerkraut.  We Americans have our peanut butter & jelly. 

The Norwegians also have traditional food.  It's what they eat for lunch every day.  (Making sweeping generalizations and poking a bit of fun at Norway is what this blog is mostly about, no?)

So what does a Norwegian lunch include?

It starts off familiar enough, with some slices of bread.  If you are in daycare, you might take two for your open-face sandwich.  If you work at Statoil you might take six, because six sandwiches is way better than a nice, hot, company subsidized meal.

Then you might put some salami on it.  Or not, depending on how wild and crazy you are feeling that day.  (The "wild and crazy" being putting the salami on your slice of bread in lieu of other ingredients.)  We're still on our home turf here, people.

Or a Norwegian may choose to put cheese on their slice of bread.  Not just any cheese, oh no.  Norvegia!  That link is to Wikipedia, where it says the recipe for this white cheese is a secret.  Well, I'm fairly confident it's still a secret because nobody wants the recipe.  It is a tasteless, rubbery cheese that can't be very real since it doesn't melt properly.  I have a friend who is convinced it is plastic.  But Norwegians are crazy for the stuff.

But my informal poll at the daycares shows that brunost, or brown cheese, is the more popular cheese-like substance for Norwegian lunches.  From what I gather, it's not really a cheese at all, but you can read further on the Wikipedia link.  It's supposedly sweeter than real cheese but I wouldn't know.  I refuse to touch the stuff.

If you cut down on the boiling time while making brunost, you get something creamier and spreadable like butter, and it's called Prim.  I don't like the way it smells when it gets on my fingers when I'm making sandwiches.  This would be higher in popularity than brunost according to my informal daycare poll.

Have you heard of braunschweiger?  Well, my dad is a fan.  The Norwegian favorite "leverpostei" is somewhat similar.  It's made of pork liver and lard.

 So we've gone over bread, salami, "cheeses", liverwurst, and now we're getting into the really interesting section.  Tubes.

We'll start with tubes of cheese.  Cheese in a tube!  Flavored cheese in a tube!  I first encountered this in Sweden, but that doesn't make this stuff any less weird.  Though when you think about it, America probably should have come up with the idea.  We're all about processed food, you know. You can get bacon cheese, ham cheese (pictured), shrimp cheese, crawfish cheese, the choices are endless!  I have included a picture of what tube cheese looks like when not in a tube for your convenience.

Folks, caviar is not for the idle rich any more.  It's for everybody!  It comes in a tube!  This is a popular choice not just for Norwegians, but also a certain someone named Johan (to the great consternation of Yours Truly).  It looks just like tube cheese when it comes out of the tube, but smells worse.

And my personal favorite, mackerel in a tube.  A happy mackerel looks like this:
Though sometimes they make people happy when they look like this:

But Norwegians are happiest of all when they look like this:

So there you have it folks.  One of the wealthiest countries in the world eats unassuming, albeit odd, sandwiches for lunch every day.  Maybe that's the secret to prosperity.  I think I'd rather cut down on my Starbucks lattes to become wealthy though.  (Since I already have, out of necessity.  No Starbucks here.)

But at least now you know how to have a Norwegian lunchtime FEAST!


  1. YUM,YUMMIER, YUMMIEST!!!!!! you just listed what my strong, healthy, happy kids grew up on :)and you think peanut butter and jam is better? ;-)))))

  2. I don't think peanut butter & jelly is better, I thought the poking fun at Americans was implied as well :)

  3. I had a cheese similar the Prim when I was in Estonia and though it was actually quite delicious on my Estonian black bread (which they thought I was really weird for toasting!). One of the ones I had was a nutmeg flavor - sounds odd but it was good! Fish in a tube just sounds wrong.


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