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Traditional Norwegian food

Norway has a lot of interesting traditional food, and any travelers visiting Norway would do well to sample some of the local cuisines. Culinary traditions in Norway have been dominated by meat, fish, and seafood that could be hunted or caught. These days the Norwegian food space represents an interesting mix of old and new due to culinary influences from all over the world.
Norwegian food and tradition

What is traditional Norwegian food?

Traditionally, Norwegian food has revolved around meat or fish, potatoes, and vegetables. Since fishing and hunting have always been fairly common in Norway, a lot of Norwegians have historically caught their own dinner to serve up at mealtimes. Due to Norway's extensive, Norwegians have always relied heavily on fish and seafood for sustenance. Seafood remains a big part of Norwegian cuisine, and no matter what region of Norway you visit, you’re likely to be able to sample fantastic locally sourced seafood. Especially in Bergen, a city that has heavily relied on income from fishing; check out some great food experiences in Bergen here. Norwegian food traditions have a lot in common with the other Nordic countries, but there are several unique Norwegian dishes that travelers may be interested in trying out for themselves.

What are some typically Norwegian dishes?

Over the last 100 years or so, typical traditional Norwegian dinner dishes have included meatballs (made with beef, pork, lamb, or reindeer meat), lapskaus (a stew made with potatoes, vegetables, and whatever else you have to hand – this is a great dish for using up leftover meat), fårikål (a hearty stew made with mutton, this is considered by many to be Norway’s national dish), lutefisk (dried, salted codfish), sodd (mutton soup) and of course pølse med lompe (a hotdog in lompe, a traditional potato pancake).
While travelers usually enjoy sampling the local cuisine in Norway, some Norwegian foods are a little more controversial. Norway is well-known for the unusual dish smalahove, which a lot of travelers make it a point to try out despite the fact that many find it off-putting. This dish basically consists of a boiled or steamed sheep’s head served with potatoes and rutabaga. Now considered a local delicacy, this dish used to be eaten by poor peasants who couldn’t afford to waste any part of the animal.
Norway also has a strong tradition of enjoying bread with ‘pålegg’ – this is basically an open sandwich with one slice of bread paired with different types of topping. Norwegians will usually have bread or crispbread with toppings for breakfast and lunch, with brunost (delicious brown cheese from Gudbrandsdalen, one of Norway’s most famous foods), other cheeses, sursild (pickled herring, popular across Scandinavia), and smoked salmon often commonly eaten at these meals. If you’d like to sample some of Norway’s most unique and delicious foods, why not join one of our great food tours? No matter what part of the country you’d like to explore, you’ll find the perfect tour for you at Fjord Tours.
Historical food trends in Norway have centered around meat/fish paired with potatoes and local vegetables. However, Norway is a modern, multicultural society, and contemporary food trends are fairly different from traditional Norwegian eating habits.
Over the past 30 years or so, there’s been a gradual culinary revolution in Norway, as exciting food from all over the world has made its way to our corner of the world. Tex Mex-inspired food is very popular, with tacos being one of the nation’s favorite foods.
Pasta is very commonly eaten in Norway, and sushi has also seen a huge boom in popularity. The American food trends are also big in Norway, with burgers and deep-dish pizza becoming staples for eating out. However, typical Norwegian foods like meatballs, lapskaus, fårikål, and more are still going strong in the country.
These traditional dishes are still commonly eaten across Norway both in homes and in restaurants. Some restaurants will prepare traditional Norwegian dishes according to old recipes passed down through generations, while other modern restaurants are focused on serving the old favorite dishes with a contemporary twist.

An Inside Look At Traditional Arctic Cuisine

In the Arctic regions, a lot of the typical food that most people eat is either not available or is wildly expensive. Therefore, the Arctic lifestyle involves eating a lot of regional dishes that use ingredients that are more commonly found in the area. Here is a detailed look inside the world of Arctic cuisine.
Reindeer meat - Traditional Norwegian Arctic Food

Lots and Lots of Meat

It should come as no surprise that there are not a ton of fruits and vegetables that can be successfully grown in the frigid Arctic temperatures. Therefore, people living in this part of the world need to resort to other sources of food.
That is why meat plays such a big role in Arctic cuisine, with some of the most popular types of meat being reindeer, sheep, and snow hares. While Arctic residents used to hunt and eat polar bears as well, this practice has been outlawed in Norway since 1973.
Luckily, there is an abundant source of meat in the Arctic residents that visitors can enjoy. And this abundance doesn’t begin and end on land. In fact, a large portion of the meat that Norway is famous for is found in the sea.
Seafood - Traditional Norwegian Arctic Food


As mentioned above, seafood is also a big part of the Arctic diet because there are so many different sources of meat in the ocean. Some of the most common ones that you are likely to find served on Arctic dinner tables are snow crab, seifilet fersk (pollock, salmon, mackerel, or haddock), tørrfisk (dried cod), and, occasionally, seal.
Not only do Norwegians eat a ton of fish, they are also usually responsible for fishing it out of the sea, rather than just taking a stroll down to the local fish market. This is not something that is usually done with other sources of meat such as reindeer and sheep since they are often much harder to kill and prepare.
Cloudberries - Traditional Norwegian Arctic Food

Herbs and Berries

In order to try and avoid the adverse health effects of eating only meat, people living in the Arctic also tend to include a lot of herbs and berries in their dishes. This is especially true during the summer months when locals can find and pick an abundance of edible berries such as bilberries and cloudberries.
This also allows them to consume a lot of vitamins that they are missing out on due to the dark and sometimes extreme winter conditions in the Arctic that keep them indoors for long periods of time.
Reindeer - Traditional Norwegian Arctic Food

Arctic & Norwegian Cuisine

It is hard to find a dish served in the Arctic that does not involve at least one of the ingredients mentioned above. Together, they make up a traditional Arctic cuisine that thousands of people living throughout northern Norway consume every day.
If you would like to delve deeper into the Norwegian cuisine and sample the diverse and exciting food on offer in Norway, we highly recommend checking out one of our Norwegian Food Tours.

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