Antidote to Darkness

16 Dec 2013 – In Norway

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Dec is the darkest time of the year in this winter wonderland. During the Christmas period many of the food traditions come to the fore and Scandinavian hospitality expands. Have been fortunate to celebrate many Christmases in Norway with wonderful Norwegian families and got to taste the traditional dishes from various families.

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Rakfisktrondheim-rakfisk-7461381968: 1st Christmas in Tromsø/Norway when rakfisk was introduced, fish dish made from trout or sometimes char, salted and fermented for two to three months, or even up to a year, then eaten without cooking. The smell is so distinct that they have to be stored in the garage, but the taste is heavenly. Best with flatbread, onions and sour cream.

Since 1968, have celebrated Christmas in Norway until 1984. Previous posting about cookies so this one will be on some of the savoury Christmas dishes. Starting with the more traditional ones:

lutefisk1. Lutefisk: one of my least favourite dish. L&M’s great-grandmother made it yearly and have tasted it once and that was enough! It is made from aged stockfish (air-dried whitefish) or dried/salted whitefish (klippfisk) and lye (lut). It is gelatinous in texture, and has an extremely strong, pungent odour. Its name literally means ‘lye fish’.

ribbe2. Ribbe: similar to the Chinese roast pork and when roasting it, the kitchen smells delightfully delicious and is warm with all the cooking. Thank goodness the air out is usually cold and refreshing to open the kitchen windows. Sometimes the head of the pig with an apple in its mouth will be displayed on the table with this dish!

Medisterkaker__53749_std3. Ellen’s Medisterkaker: this is very special and really yummy. She mixes reindeer meat hunt from her own family mountain terrain. Reindeer steak is a bit on the gamey side for me but these meat balls are out of this world and the broth is a die die must try. Drank so much of that broth even Ellen remembers that she was nearly out of broth one year 🙂

rype4. Rype/Grouse: this is Kari’s tradition and they hunt for it in Rypefjord, Finmark/Northern Norway. Only she can prepare this dish to make it taste out of this world. Thank you Kari, will always remember this feast fit for the King!

bacalhau5. Balcalhau: is the Portuguese word for cod and—in a culinary context—dried and salted cod. Ingrid serves this dish, another yummy fish dish serve during Christmas and Easter.  There are some restaurants that serve this year round. Had it Sep 2012 when touring Norway with Peggy and Kenson.

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There are many other dishes which different families will have their own traditions. The other dishes will be smoked and salted meats, pickled herrings, variety of breads and beverages, both sodas and beers  made especially for Christmas.

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And the last Christmas celebrations in Norway with L&M, their grandparents and aunt was 1991, en route back to the US after following the USS Missouri around the world on a good-will journey.

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With the 2 postings of some of the tradition Norwegian Christmas foods to wish everyone velkommen til bords/welcome to the table!

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift – Mary Oliver

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