Food Culture and Tradition

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Foods Commonly Used in Norway


Although ice cream vendors commonly hawk their wares at ski matches and shows throughout the winter, in other respects Norwegians are uncommonly conservative not only in foods but also in food preparation. This is not to say that Norwegian food is bland. It is not. Rather, care is taken to preserve the natural sea or earthy flavors inherent in all fresh foods. Freshly caught fish (often still alive), fresh meats, young vegetables and seasonal fruits are all enjoyed with a minimum of fripperies: simply boiled or gently stewed and served with their own freshness and taste intact.

Robust, pungent, and heartier flavors are evident in the many fermented, cured, pickled, and salted dishes that appear on the Norwegian table; fermented fish (especially trout, called rakorret) and smoked, cured meats, pickled herrings, pickled and salted vegetables and tangy salads all take their place with aged cheeses and sour, crisp, wholegrain breads. So much are natural flavors relished that often soups, stews, and desserts are seasoned only with salt or sweetened with sugar. Dairy products are enjoyed daily and sour cream is as important an ingredient in many dishes as salt. Though fruits and vegetables have only a short growing season, they seem to make up in quality and taste what they lack in variety. Self-sufficient in meat (domestic and game), dairy products, and vegetables, Norway imports most of her grain needs, fruits, and some vegetables.

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