Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Exotic Norwegian foods I have tried

-Moose Salami. It tastes like slightly off salami, a bit darker and spookier. I also ate reindeer cold cuts. They were so smoked they just tasted like smoky roast beef.

-Jelly made from bush "apples." (No one knew the Norwegian word, let alone the English.) The apple-juice-colored jelly tasted like how mustard would taste if it were a fruit--piquant, guilty, sweet.

Whale steak

-Whale Steak. It does not taste like chicken. Also not like fish. Also not like beef. It has a very sweet light taste with an oceany, briny undertone, a whiff of the salty rot of seaweed, maybe. Its most defining characteristic (other than the feeling of sin while you eat it) is its weird gristle structure, which is very different from steak or other land animals. It has a chewy rind but no fat. I don't know what kind of whale it was, or from what section the tiny steaks were cut. Served with rice, gravy, caramelized onions and cowberry sauce.

 Ice cream; cowberry sauce

-Home made ice cream with cowberry sauce and spruce syrup. Sissel made a very dense ice cream with rich yellow fløte (one of my few Norwegian vocab words--it means cream) that resembled in density a stick of butter. Cowberry sauce is like cranberry sauce but with smaller berries. I just learned that cowberries are also called lingonberries.

Spruce syrup

Spruce syrup on waffle

-Spruce syrup. More viscous than maple syrup, with a greenish tinge. It tasted sour and spicy and a tiny bit sweet and vaguely disgusting, like maple syrup after relapsing into narcotics. I couldn't bring myself to try it more than once.

-Norwegian waffles. Unlike American circles or squares, Norwegian waffles are shaped like flowers, and each petal is a heart. Waffles are such a big deal here that these farmers had some antique waffle irons to fit on a wood-burning stove. One was as small as my hand.


-Smør. There's not too much to say about Norwegian butter, except that Norwegians don't refrigerate it. It's something you keep in a box on the counter. You might think that this is possible in Norway because it's so cold, but really the interiors are just as heated as US houses. So maybe Americans treat butter like it's more fragile than it really is. This butter was so soft you could brush it right on your toast.

Freia easter eggs in packaging

-Freia easter eggs. Freia is the Hershey's of Norway (actually, Freia is now part of Kraft Foods). These eggs come four to a carton, with two little plastic spoons that are bound together with a sticker that you have to tear. The eggs have a milk chocolate shell and are filled with "milk cream." The idea is that you bite off the top of the shell and consume the cream with the spoon. This isn't like the milk cream in Kinder bars (that's pastier, this one is moister and fluffier). It also isn't grainy-tasting pure translucent sugar mucous, like in Cadbury eggs. It's a white opaque mousse that is very sweet but almost has a hint of dairy in it. Anyway, I love it.

-Duck eggs. The farmer liked to prepare them with a lot of garlic and some store bought spice he called "Tikka masala."

-Birthday cake. It was my 23rd birthday on March 22nd. This cake was a dream, so light and glamorous on that 400-year-old farm table. It was like a wealthy, cosmopolitan visitor, and it moved me that the rugged and unfancy farmers had dredged up some old rule of etiquette and presented me with this elegant creation. The cake had "Congratulations" written on the top in cursive, under a crimson frosting rose. It was flawlessly swathed in some matte peach-colored layer that Sissel called marzipan. The inside was four layers of yellow cake, adhered to one another with whipped cream. Some of the whipped cream hid chunks of banana, or coats of raspberry jam.

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