Four common myths about Norwegian food you need to stop believing
Norway has established itself as an up-and-coming foodie destination in recent years. Despite this fact, numerous myths and stereotypes associated with its food are still widely believed – so we're calling them out.
Norway's geographical position, diverse landscapes, and long coastline provide it with continuous access to world-class ingredients year-round, and Norwegian cuisine has evolved dramatically in recent decades.
Norwegian cooks have won international renown for their modern takes on traditional recipes, and, as of 2022, 14 Norwegian restaurants have Michelin stars.
Few people know that Norway is also the country with the most prizes won in the Bocuse d'Or competitions, the prestigious world chef championships.
Despite all of these exciting developments, antiquated stereotypes about Norwegian food are still alive and well. In this article, we're going to break down why you need to turn your back on some of the most common ones.
Seafood... and nothing else
Norwegian seafood is enjoyed all over the world and has a sterling reputation when it comes to quality. However, the fragrant dried cod, delicious fresh fish, and majestic king crabs have outshined other food in the country – to the point where some (mistakenly) believe that Norway has nothing else to offer, gastronomically speaking.
Enter Norwegian wild game and meat specialities. If you visit the country in Autumn, your jaw just might drop at the sight of the numerous game delicacies.
From deer and moose to grouse, there are numerous opportunities to try wild game dishes at restaurants and eateries all over the country.
Furthermore, Norway has a large number of grazing animals, with lambs and goats being particularly prized in traditional cuisine. These animals graze freely outdoors in Norway's pristine nature, which makes their meat especially tasty.
Pssst! If you haven't tried deer steak, you're in for a treat! It's a staple of many family dinners in Norway in the autumn and winter months.
Boring food focused on survival
Even in 2022, it's not uncommon to find comments on social media describing Norwegian food as "boring," "bland," "unexciting," "average," or "focused on survival."
While that might have been the case in the past, before the country discovered oil and went through a period of extreme wealth accumulation (which is still ongoing), the statement that Norwegian food is bland cannot stand the test of honest scrutiny today.
The 14 Michelin-starred restaurants in the country serve as a testament to the gastronomic revolution that is underway, and this year, four new restaurants (Lysverket, Hot Shop, Hyde, and Schlägergården) received their first star.
One only needs to look at the fantastic food and relentless work that is going on in Maaemo in Oslo – the first restaurant in Norway to earn three stars in the Michelin guide – to see that things are changing.
Norway is quickly establishing itself as a hotspot for top-class restaurants, so make sure you book a table in advance if you want to find out what the buzz is about (especially if you want to dine at Michelin-acknowledged restaurants such as RE-NAA, Kontrast, Bare, or others).
Too cold for great fruit
The mental image of Norway that most people have includes meter-high snow, northern lights, reindeer in the streets, and the midnight sun.
However, if you venture to the west or south of the country, you might be amazed at the quality of Norwegian fruit and berries that you'll find.
From the Hardanger region in the west to the Telemark area in the south, amazing fruit (especially apples!) can be found in abundance thanks to long days during the summer and somewhat moderate temperatures.
As the state-funded guide Visit Norway points out, the unique conditions in the area allow the "fruit and berries to grow and ripen slowly, giving them an extra sweet flavour."
So, if you want to experience a different side of Norway, book a trip to one of its fruit farms, try some excellent cider, and prepare to have your mind blown!
All Norwegians enjoy weird delicacies (such as lutefisk and smalahove)
Norway has a host of traditional comfort food that is to die for (think crispy Christmas pork ribs or delicious dried mutton ribs). However, Norwegians also have a reputation for indulging in somewhat… strange delicacies.
Examples of such weird dishes include the infamous lutefisk (a gelatinous fish dish based on dryfish pickled in lie), smalahove (a steamed sheep's head), and rakfisk (usually semi-fermented trout).
If you've watched Gordon Ramsey's "Uncharted - National Geographic" episode on Norway, you might be under the impression that Norwegians just can't get enough of slimy fermented fish.
If so, you're deeply mistaken.
While some Norwegians enjoy these delicacies, others don't come near them. This polarisation is becoming particularly obvious when you compare older and newer generations.
So, if you're unwilling to try speciality dishes such as lutefisk during a dinner in Norway, don't be afraid – you're not likely to be the only one opting for a more standard dish, even at a table full of Norwegians.