Food & Drink For Members

The Norwegian eating habits the world could learn from

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected] • 3 Feb, 2023 Updated Fri 3 Feb 2023 14:21 CEST
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These are the Norwegian food habits that the rest of the world could learn from. Pictured is a open sandwich Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Norwegian cuisine may not capture the imagination or tantalise tastebuds like food from other countries does. Still, Norwegians have several habits when it comes to dining that the world could do well to learn from.

Norwegian food has taken a bit of a bashing recently. Online food encyclopedia TasteAtlas recently ranked it among the world's worst cuisine, placing it 95th out of 95 countries. The ranking considered audience votes for the country's ingredients and dishes

Unfortunately, the reputation of Norwegian salmon and seafood, often seen as the gold standard worldwide, did little to carry the country's reputation to a more respectable ranking. 

What about those actually living or who have visited Norway? Well, it's more bad news. Just under 40 percent of our readers said Norwegian food being ranked worst in the world was fair. Additionally, while a third said the ranking was unfair, they didn't think Norwegian food deserved particularly high plaudits. 

So while Norwegian chefs shine on the world stage (the country recently finished second in the Bocuse d'Or and is the nation to win it the most times overall), the local food is taking a battering (although not to be fried in oil later).

With all that being said. Any self-respecting foodie should sit up and take notice of Norway, as even though the food may not hit the spot, there are several eating habits that everyone should take on board. 

Making the most of seasonal ingredients 

There are a number of laws in place to ensure that Norwegian agriculture isn't forced out of existence by cheaper products from far-flung countries.

These come in the form of heavily subsidised agriculture and strict import rules which limit and impose tariffs on meats and dairy products from other countries. 

And while you will still find avocados (definitely not native to Norway's cold climate) in supermarkets all year round, as well as fruits and berries from all over the world, these laws mean a lot of seasonal food and shopping takes place. 

Norway's national dish, fårkål, while not a culinary revelation by any means (its perhaps loved more for its ease of preparation than its taste), is an example of a beloved dish that people typically only eat when the ingredients are in season and from (the most part) Norwegian producers. 

Then there is Skrei, which is cod. However, while all skrei is cod, not all cod is skrei. Skrei is a seasonal delicacy and is Atlantic Cod which migrates down to Norwegian fishing zones between (January and April). And, of course, who can forget the Norwegian strawberry season? 

These products' appearance and promotion aren't just about marketing. Consumers in Norway, and restaurants for that matter, genuinely do their best to recognise and appreciate the importance of local seasonal meat, fish and produce. 

This approach is also recognised by the Michelin Guide, the bible for food snobs worldwide, with many restaurants being starred for their use of local products or recognised for their sustainability practices. 

READ MORE: Where are Norway’s Michelin star restaurants?

Kveldsmat

You will likely have seen this word before pop up on lists of unique Norwegian words and the like, but it may be a word worth recognising and incorporating into your own routine. 

Meaning evening food, it is typically the fourth (and final) meal of the day for Norwegians. Some families will eat dinner as early as 5pm. This may leave some feeling angry later in the evening. 

This is where kveldsmat comes in, you'll typically eat this at around 8pm or 9pm, and it will consist of a slice of bread and a topping, be that cheese, leverpostei (a Norwegian type of paté) or cured meat. 

For a few reasons, deciding to eat a small meal when you feel hungry is much better for you than snacking or grazing. The small meal will probably have to digest, along with your main meal, as long as you don't eat too late. 

Then ditching the sugary snacks for something more substantial (but still light) will help you sleep better as you won't be hopped up on sugar. 

It also stops you from overindulging in snacks, which means that when you treat yourself, it will feel like you have earned it, which brings us to our next point. 

Lørdagsgodt 

Lørdagsgodt translates to Saturday sweets or Saturday goodies. This is as much a tradition as it is a food habit for a lot of Norwegians. 

Essentially this is the act of saving sweets and snacks, typically pick and mix, for the weekend. This allows you to truly savour this weekly indulgence rather than enjoying treats whenever you fancy. 

This tradition is actually borrowed from neighbouring Sweden and is the result of a public health campaign. This habit that all good things should be enjoyed in moderation is something that can be applied to life generally and not just eating habits. 

Meals are family time 

Most Norwegian families sit down for a full family meal. Now while a meal may not be the event it is in other, namely Mediterranean, countries, you don't have to worry about four courses or being sat at the table for three hours at a time. 

Instead, dinner time in Norway is short but sweet. The family convenes for a brief (and if our survey is to be believed, not very tasty) meal and will talk and catch up over the meal. 

While there, they'll have time to catch up and spend quality time together. This is especially important as children in Norway can be busy quite a few evenings due to the various clubs and activities kids will need to be hurried off to during the week. 

Meal times in Norway are a shining example that it is still possible to fit daily quality family time into busy modern schedules. 

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Frazer Norwell 2023/02/03 14:21

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