If you are not a Norwegian you might think that what you see on the picture above is a relatively simple traditional Norwegian dinner. I admit that it looks innocent enough, but it is far from. The dish above is the yardstick with which every newlywed woman in Norway is measured.
Her reputation as a housewife is placed on the scales the first time she makes meatballs for her husband. What sort of mince meat is she useing, what sort of spices. Does she serve them with stewed cabbage or stewed peas. With just the fat from the frying pan or a propper sauce. And most important around here, does she serve it with propper cranberry jam or just fresh cranberries stirred with sugar.
The worst thing for the young woman is that she has no way of knowing how to get it right, because what it all comes down to is, does her husband say when he taste them; “They are not as good as my mother’s” or “These were delicious, luv.”
Her reputation is as you now understand in the hands of her mother-in-law’s cooking. And worst is, said mother-in-law may be the crappiest cook for miles around, her devoted son will love her crappy meatballs anyway.
Traditional food is no joking matter around this
neck of the woods I can tell you
Warm soups were a regular dessert in Norway in the old days and were not particularly unusual even when I was a kid. We had both home-made rosehip soup, fruit soup and soups made on different types of berries for dessert back then – Ted
I grew up on this dish, with sour cream sauce, not crème fraîche sauce though. No one knew what crème fraîche was round this neck of the woods back in the fifties and early sixties.
Both my mom and dad was eager anglers, so they headed for the montains every autumn and retured with trout enough to last us till well into the early summer. My granny, one of the bats ;-), came to take care of my sister and me while they were away – Ted
A Norwegian fish speciality found in “God Mat Fra Sjøen” (Great Food From The Sea) published by Gyldendal in 1984
This dish from Western Norway is for many, I must admit an acquired taste. My x-wife’s mother used to serve it quite often and quite honestly, it took me some time to appreciate it. Mixing ground fish, onion and potatoes may seem like a strange thing to do, but when you get used to it, it actually is quite delicious – Ted
Here is a traditional Norwegian recipe from Upper Sogndalen Country Women Society. In the old days colostrum pudding was a dessert always served after calving. Today there is hardly dairy farmers left in Upper Sogndalen. It does not matter if it’s not the first milking, the pudding sets, and it pudding freezes well.
It has never been picked as much berries in Norway as during the German occupation during WWII. The cranberry traffic by trains, busses and lorries was legendary. It was strictly regulated by date and it resulted in regular migrations when the traffic took place. Inspectors, jokingly called “cranberry police” made sure that there were no false starts. And if you were caught red handed, your berries were ruthlessly confiscated and you were fined.
This is not just a story of hard times, rationing and food shortages. It is also a story about Norwegians’ deep love for cranberry jam. Whatever they managed to get hold of for Christmas dinner during the war, they would at least see to it that there was cranberry jam on the table.
A lorry about to take off for the cranberry picking and as you
can see from the pictures it was mainly a man’s job.
It was just Cranberry that were submitted to date regulation. you could pick all other berries when it suited you. Cloudberries were obviously the very jewel in the crown. It could not be date regulated because it matured at different times. But picking unmatured cloudberries was totally forbidden then as now. Stories sirculated about people that allegedly went out on the cloudberry marshes with a scythe cutting down the cloudberry bushes and cleaning them for unmatured cloudberries. It did hardly ever happen, but such stories were still told with horror and disgust.
All cloudberry pickers, then as now, amateurs as professionals pickers, know that there is no point in picking unmatured berries all you are left with are useless hard seeds.
Professional cloudberry pickers
Just as surely as autumn came, came stories about bears having been seen on the cloudberry marshes. As a rule, these storries were a pack of lies and merely intended to intimidate people from embarking on the marshes to pick cloudberries. Such fantasy animals was usually called “Cloudberry Bear”.