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Norwegian word of the day: Kveldsmat

Norwegian word of the day: Kveldsmat
Photo: engin akyurt on Unsplash
Why a dry slice of bread and a glass of cold milk is true bliss to Norwegians.

Why do I need to know kveldsmat?

Because it’s a common thing that also says a whole lot about Norwegian culture.

What does it mean?

Kveld means ‘evening’ and mat means ‘food’. Put them together and you get kveldsmat, which is food you eat in the evening.

Norwegians eat dinner early, as in 5pm – earlier or later depending on whether or not there are small children in the house – so sometimes they need something small before going to bed. Hence kveldsmat.

It can be translated to ‘evening meal’ or ‘night snack’, but really it is so much more than that. Kveldsmat is a ritual Norwegians learn to cherish at young age.

Kveldsmat generally consists of brødskiver, which is Norwegian for ‘slices of bread’, topped with pålegg (spread). A typical pålegg is cheese, either gulost (yellow cheese) or brunost (brown cheese), or leverpostei (Norwegian type of paté).

And a glass of milk. Classic kveldsmat must have a glass of Norwegian milk.

If you live in Norway, you might have noticed that kveldsmat is basically the exact same meal as what most Norwegians have for both breakfast and lunch.

But Norwegians love brødskiver. Why change a good thing?

Besides, they have perfected the art of making otherwise dull slices of bread look like small pieces of art. Some slices of cucumber, a sliver of red pepper and a dash of pepper go a long way.

This time of year you might even get some homemade hot chocolate to go with your skive (slice). Bliss!

But remember that, to Norwegians, a treat is only a treat if you have earned it. Otherwise, it’s just indulgence, and that’s bad.

Kveldsmat is no exception to the rule. Ideally, you should just have come home from an evening skiing trip, toes frozen, hair full of ice and arms wobbly from all that strenuous work.

Do that first, then come back and report on what that brødskive and glass of milk tasted like. 


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