Food Culture and Tradition

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Glossary of Foods and Food Terms in Norway


Agurksalat: salad of salt-wilted cucumbers prepared by thinly slicing the fresh cucumbers and allowing them to stand after being liberally salted. The salting wilts the slices and helps to draw away any bitterness. Or the thin slices may be marinated in a sweet and sour mixture of vinegar, water, and sugar, and with onion slices and fresh dill.

Aquavit: colorless alcoholic drink distilled from grain or potatoes sometimes flavored with caraway seeds. Aquavit means “water of life” and is a great favorite in all Scandinavian countries.

Avkokt Torsk: poached cod steaks usually served with lemon and butter, hot or cold.

Blot Kaker: creamy dessert of alternate layers of sponge cake, fresh or preserved fruits or berries and whipped cream.

Faar I Kaal or Faikal: a stewed or oven-baked casserole of layered browned cubes of boneless lamb and wedges of cabbage cooked in stock or bouillon, and finished with peppercorns and flour-thickened sour cream. This dish is a weekly specialty.

Fattigman: crispy rich fried cookies prepared from a batter of egg yolks, butter and flour flavored with brandy. The rolled pastry is cut into squares, each square gashed and the point drawn through, then the shapes are deep-fried and served sugar-sprinkled.

Fenalar: thin strips of mutton that have been salted and wind-dried. Legs of lamb and lamb spareribs may be prepared in the same way.

Fiskepudding: a fish pudding – but what a fish pudding! On top of a baked mixture of chopped fish blended with cream and flour and touched with nutmeg are placed poached fish balls (of the sauce mixture). Before serving, a hot lobster or shrimp sauce is poured over all.

Flatbrod: thin and crisp, large round dimpled circles of whole rye bread which are often baked in huge quantities to last the winter. Villagers make it a social occasion to gather and bake the breads in hearth ovens then hang them through a hole in the center on long poles to dry.

Gammel Ost: a distinctive Norwegian cheese, brown in color and tangy sharp in taste. It is also distinctive in odor and for this reason is always served from its own covered dish.

Goro Wafers: a thin dough of eggs, flour, cream, and vanilla is cut to fit the patterned Goro iron pan. When the pan’s two sides are pressed together, a pattern is baked on. Quickly rolled into crisp tubes while hot the wafers are a coffee treat.

Gravlaks: thick fillets of very fresh salmon from Norway’s icy waters are pressed after being rubbed with salt, sandwiched with sprigs of fresh dill, and allowed to stand overnight. This is made in all Scandinavian countries and in Russia as well, but the special Norwegian touch is a splash of brandy. Washed and wiped after their “bath,” the slabs of translucent salmon are sliced very thinly crosswise.

Gravmat: name given to the sandwiches and other foods eaten after the funeral service.

Gravol: name given to the ceremonial beer drunk after funerals.

Grott or Grotte: commonly called porridge but it is not a grain cereal. It is a thick pudding made from sour cream or sour milk and is the usual end to a Norwegian dinner.

Julebord: name given to the multi-dish buffet prepared for Christmas Day. Features all the Norwegian specialties including roast duck and roast pork stuffed with apples and prunes, many salads, cooked vegetables, fish dishes and Gravlaks.

Kirsebaersuppe: a cold cherry soup to warm the heart! Made with pitted fresh cherries simmered with lemon, sugar, and cinnamon then finished with more than a splash of sherry.

Kjott: the generic name for meat. For example, lamb is Lammekjott.

Kling-Korg: the special wooden basket used by brides to serve breads and cakes throughout the wedding festivities. A tradition of Hardanger, Norway

Koltbord: the bountiful Norwegian buffet of many fish dishes, assorted cheese and cold sliced meats, fruits and jugs of fresh cold milk, breads and rolls and of course coffee. A Koltbord makes its appearance early for breakfast, but is on display at holidays, weddings, funerals, and birthdays.


Kransekake: a many-layered almond meringue cake decorated with icing and caramel-sealed with tiny flags, crackers, petit-fours, sugared flowers. A must for weddings and confirmations.

Lefser: tiny triangle-shaped cakes filled with butter and sour cream.

Lutefisk: a Scandinavian specialty for Christmas Eve dinner, made from dried salt cod which has been soaked in water and then a water-and-lye solution and finally gently poached. The resultant fish is bland with the jelly-like consistency and is served with sauce.

Middag: the name given to the early Norwegian dinner, usually served at about 4:00 p.m.

Multer: tart yellow cloudberries, sweetened then served as a Christmas dessert with whipped cream.

Oplagt Melk: freshly made clabbered cream, slightly tart, served with a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon and eaten as a snack.

Pytt I Panne: meat and potato hash pancakes served with eggs cooked on top.

Rok Orret: strong (in smell and flavor) fermented trout.

Rommegrot: traditional Norwegian dessert and Christmas Eve meal for the mischievous troll Julenisse. Cooked sour cream thickened with flour and served in soup plates drizzled with melted butter and touched with cinnamon and brown sugar.

Ryper Med Tyttebaer: a special dish of butter-braised ptarmigan served with a sour cream and goat’s milk cheese sauce and garnished with lingonberries.

Skarke: another name for thinly sliced meat that is salt-sprinkled and wind-dried.

Smalefotter: grilled, smoked and wind-dried lamb’s legs.

Smorrebrod: sometimes used as a name for lunch, since the most usual Norwegian lunch is open-face sandwiches.

Stockfish: air-dried cod. Though an abundance of fresh fish is available, Norwegians enjoy smoked, pickled, dried, and fermented fish as well. It is said that five kilos of fresh cod is equal to one kilo dried.

Surkal: a dish of cooked shredded cabbage smoothed with a cream sauce sharpened with a splash of vinegar and sprinkled with black caraway seeds.

Syltete Rodbeter: a salad of pickled beets, frequently garnished with hard-cooked eggs.

Tyttebaer: sweet-tart lingonberries.


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