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Eating Norwegian Posted by on Jan 26, 2014 in Contemporary, Food, Traditional, Traditions

In the online comic ”Scandinavia and the World”, the Norway character is often accompanied by a fisk (fish). Traditionally, maten i Norge (the food in Norway) has indeed been dominated by fisk – as well as poteter [poTEHTer] (potatoes). Although modern Norway is full of hurtigmat (fast food), many people still think it’s important to spend time cooking and eating healthy, robust food – to be frisk som en fisk (”fit like a fish”). Let’s take a look at the main Norwegian måltider (meals):

Frokost is eaten in the early morning. Unlike the quick ”coffee and croissant” breakfast in some countries, frokosten is an important meal in Norway. Norwegians think it’s important to be god og mett (”good and full”) in order to have a productive and energized day of work and leisure. They start their day with beverages like melk, juice [yooce] and kaffi, accompanied by edible stuff like jogurt or milk with some kind of frokostblanding (breakfast cereals like cornflakes or muesli), knekkebrød (crispbread) and brødskiver (slices of bread) with toppings of margarine/smør (butter), brunost (brown cheese), gulost (yellow cheese), salami, syltetøy (jam)… The typical Norwegian bread is made of hvete (wheat) and quite light, with the popular kneippbrød a bit coarser.

Lunsj [lurnsh] is eaten in the late morning/early noon. It’s dominated by skiver [SHEEVer] (slices [of bread]) with various combinations of pålegg (”the things you lay on your bread”) – ost (cheese), salami… In some workplaces and schools people eat varm mat (hot food) for lunch; ”cold” bread, however, remains the norm, eventually combined with a bit of frukt (fruit). Many workers and students bring their food from home, in the shape of matpakker (”packed lunches”).

Middag is the main Norwegian meal. As the name indicates (”mid-day”), it was traditionally eaten early in the day, some places as early as noon (12 o’ clock – and I guess they didn’t eat lunsj back then!) In weekends, middag (or middagsmat) is still eaten very early, but in my experience, most Norwegians eat it between 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock (or when getting home from work). Maybe it’s an influece from Southern Europe, where people dine much later! (In Denmark, they typically dine at 18 o’clock.)
Middag is a hot meal, typically prepared at home. (Eating out is becoming more common in Norway, but it’s still ”something a bit special”). Many Norwegians enjoy ”good ole plain food” like potatoes and fish or fårikål (mutton in sauerkraut). Nonetheless, the Norwegian cuisine has become globalized, so in an ordinary Norwegian home you may be served everything from Italian pizzaer to Greek salat [salAHT].

Kveldsmat [KVELLsmaht] means ”evening meal”, and is the last meal of the day. It’s usually a light meal (bread, fruit etc.) Noone wants to go to bed på tom mage (with an empty stomach)! As every Norwegian knows: Uten mat og drikke duger helten ikke! (Without food and drink, the hero doesn’t work!)

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.