Norway is a unique country: there are mountains, there is the sea and there are fjords. Its cuisine is an interesting mix of foods and flavors, typical dishes and more international ones.
If it’s summer, one of the main attractions in the city of Bergen is the fish market: being there gives the feeling of a seaside city, not only because it’s located at the harbor, but also because in every stall people cook and serve right in front of your eyes the freshest and most tasteful fish. Sitting in one of the tables and enjoying skewers with prawns and scallops, a king crab or a lobster with lemon juice and vegetables is surely an experience not to miss. A more “on the go” option, instead, would be asking for a sandwich with marinated salmon and shrimps. The best thing about eating at the fish market is the chance of trying more typical and unique products such as whale sausage and shark meat; along with that even stranger products are displayed, such as any imaginable type of caviar, and the weirdest fish products such as crab paste and cod liver oil. Eating at the market, however, is not the only possibility to enjoy Norwegian seafood: there are many typical and cozy restaurants serving local dishes. Some of the most popular options are the Norwegian fiskesuppe, a creamy milk-based soup with vegetables and fish, lutefisk, a stockfish preparation, and of course smoked salmon, the most internationally known Norwegian dish.
Typical Norwegian food, though, goes beyond just seafood. Bergen, like many other Norwegian cities, is located right in the fjord, between the sea and the mountains, which add to its cuisine a vast set of proteins and flavors. Ordering a reindeer filet served with sour cream, lingonberries and some roasted potatoes is definitely the most popular option. Reindeer meat is very strong and flavorful, and it’s often complemented with strong spices and sweet and sour jams. Eating filet is not the only option though: reindeer sausage with juniper berries is also a great way to enjoy this special protein. The meat menu, however, is much richer; other typical dishes include more common meats, such as venison, lamb, beef, moose and pork. As for the side dishes, they are very similar to the usual Scandinavian ones; it’s very common to have meat served with carrots, onions, cabbage and potatoes, which can be either mashed, roasted or fried. Kjøttboller is a Norwegian alternative to Swedish meatballs; Svinestek is roasted pork, which families in Norway often eat with pickled cabbage, and Smalahove is a typical Christmas dish made by sheep head. Preserved meat is another typical food and it comes in many regional variations and it can be served wither with sour cream or in flat bread wraps.
Along with meat and seafood, another popular food in Norwegian cuisine is cheese: Norwegians love cheese; they have also invented the cheese cutter, a tool used to slice cheese blocks. The varieties present in the typical dishes are many: there is Jarlsberg Cheese, a common yellow cheese; the Gammalost, over matured and very pungent, and Brunost, a brown cheese that has the unique feature of not being actual cheese, but more of caramelized lactose, giving to it a very interesting flavor.
The most typical restaurants will be decorated according to the Scandinavian style, giving to the experience in Norway an even more authentic outlook. Walls and floors are often made of dark wood, giving the feeling of being in a different century. The furniture is dark as well and colors often include a lot of reds and greens. It’s common to find many photographs and paintings of Norwegian cities and landscapes hanging on the walls and what’s also very likely to be found are hunting trophies of any sort. The atmosphere is very cozy: lighting is warm; there are many candles and fireplaces, especially in the most typical restaurants.
Another interesting feature is that Norway has been highly influenced by globalization: there is much fusion with other cultures and cuisines. Sushi is one of the best examples of international food with a Norwegian twist to it. In Norway there are various restaurants, which combine the top quality of Norwegian seafood with the Asian art of sushi. The flavors go according to Asian tradition but the products come directly from the Northern Sea, making sushi fresh and tasteful. With respect to many sushi places around the world, in Norway the variety of fish is much wider. Along with Japanese dishes, Norwegians are very fund of Mexican food: in Norway Friday is taco night; there are many restaurants that serve exclusively Mexican dishes, from the most traditional to the most internationalized ones. A further example of Norwegian cuisine being largely affected by globalization is pizza: frozen pizza is the student’s favorite dish, and in the cities pizza places are never missing: there are both traditional Italian pizzas and more alternatives pizzas, which take the original recipe and change it according to local tastes and preferences.
So if travelling to Norway, get the full experience from it: don’t miss the traditional dishes, try things you wouldn’t find elsewhere and enjoy your favorite meals with a more northern feel to them.