Photo: Sara Johannessen
Fjord Tours Articles / 5 Dec 2019

An Inside Look At Traditional Arctic Cuisine

When you think of a tasty dinner, what comes to mind—a burger, pizza, pasta, tacos? What would you do if none of these dishes (and the majority of their ingredients) weren’t available? This is the reality of most people living in the Arctic due to their remote location.

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 MEET ON WOODEN PLATE FINNMARK NORWAY PHOTO CHRISTIAN ROTH CHRISTENSEN 5848283 Foto Christian Roth Christensen
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen

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.

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Photo: Thomas T. Kleiven

Seafood

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.

PICKING CLOUDBERRIES FINNMARK NORWAY PHOTO CHRISTIAN ROTH CHRISTENSEN 5848233 Foto Christian Roth Christensen
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen

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 MEAT COOKED ON CAMPFIRE FINNMARK NORWAY PHOTO CHRISTIAN ROTH CHRISTENSEN 5848258 Foto Christian Roth Christensen
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen

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.