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We all know the saying “you are what you eat”; the belief that to be healthy and remain in shape you need to eat quality nutritious food. If this is true, then your dream of becoming as fit and strong as a Viking may mean you have to start eating like one!

Of course there is no better way to start eating like a true Viking than to head to Norway.  People have long been taking bucket list trips to Norway to see the country’s breathtaking landscapes, but they have recently started travelling for another reason as well.

The new diet craze that is sweeping the world is the Nordic Diet. It is a diet that is not only proving to be quite healthy for us but the environment as well. It is a sustainable diet that takes advantage of seasonal ingredients and requires fewer natural resources with less pollution to produce meals.

The following dishes are some of the “must try” dishes you have to experience on your next Scandinavian adventure.

The Best Foods to Try on Your Trip to Norway

Reindeer

Reindeer

One of the foods I enjoy trying most while travelling is local meats. In Kenya it was Kudu, in Peru I tried cuy, and in Norway you must try reindeer.

It may be difficult for some to eat Rudolph and his friends, but this lean nutrient rich meat is quite delicious. It is often served as steaks, meatballs, and sausages.

Finnbiff is a tasty stew that involves mixing reindeer meat with bacon, mushrooms, berries, and goat’s cheese. This makes a perfect dish to warm you up after a long day on the ski slopes or snowshoeing through the country.

Photo credit: Steve K

Smalahove

Sheep Head

You might as well be courageous and dive right into the Norwegian diet by sampling smalahove. Not for the ultra squeamish, smalahove involves looking at an entire sheep’s head on your plate.

If you don’t usually like your food staring back at you, then you better start with eating the eyes first. This is also recommended as most Norwegians start with the eyes since they taste better when eaten hot along with other fatty parts of the head.

The salted and dried head is boiled until tender and may require a few pints of Ringnes beer to wash down your first time. The head can be served with or without the brains, so if you are “brain intolerant” as I am, you may want to choose this option.

Photo credit: Matt Lucht

Lutefisk

Norway is known for their mastery of preserving fish and lutefisk is one such dish that involves the use of dried fish such as cod.

The dish involves a long process of air drying the fish or salting/drying and then soaking in cold water for nearly a week. The final step involves soaking it in a bath containing lye for a few days which gives it a gelatinous texture.

It is a popular dish that is served during Christmas celebration feasts and is accompanied by potatoes and bacon.

Cloudberries

Soft and juicy cloudberry in Gausdal Vestfjell.

These delicious berries are a bit of a rarity, giving them the title of Arctic Gold. The golden-yellow berries are soft and juicy along with providing you with ample amounts of vitamin C.

Try them in the Norwegian dessert multekrem which consists of the berries mixed with whipped cream and sugar. You can also look for cloudberry yogurt, jam, juice, and liqueur.

Photo credit: Jan Hammershaug

Lefse

Lefse is a simple traditional soft Norwegian flatbread. It is made using left over potatoes and although it calls for traditional flour, rice flour can be used to make a gluten-free variety.

The bread is cooked on a flat griddle and then usually topped with sweet butter, cinnamon, and sugar. The bread is usually rolled into tubes and eaten as a snack.

Many also choose to add fillings of their choice which may include jam, cheese, or deli meats.

Brunost: Brown Cheese

Brunost - brown cheese.

Unlike any cheese I have ever tasted, brunost has a sweet taste with a hint of caramel. It has the consistency of fudge and is the most famous cheese in Norway. You will find it being eaten on breads or Norwegian waffles and served throughout the country.

I personally wouldn’t really classify brunost as a cheese at all and it is an acquired taste much like the beloved Australian Vegemite. A slicer is usually presented with the cheese and I recommend starting off with very thin slices and work your way up.

Photo credit: AnneCN

Raspeballer

This is the traditional Norwegian potato dumpling that is often filled with salted lamb or pork. It is comfort food at its finest with all its fat and salt that pleasures your taste buds to their max.

It is a rather heavy dense dish that will definitely leave you feeling full and is perfect for winter visits.

Krumkake

Krumkaker

These delicious waffle cookie treats basically look like an ice cream cone but are filled with a wide array of fillings including whipped cream, chocolate, jam, berries, and basically whatever sweet craving you wish.

The recipe calls for butter, eggs, sugar, flour, and cream, but you can also find vegan varieties in local restaurants and bakeries. The artistic designs on the waffle cones are just as fun as the taste.

Photo credit: Jonathunder

Fårikål

Let us end with Norway’s national dish, Fårikål. So popular is the dish that it is even celebrated with its own annual holiday every September known as Fårikål Feast Day.

It is quite simple to prepare and only consists of a few ingredients, mainly which include mutton (sheep meat) and cabbage. Slowly cooked, the meat becomes super tender and is usually served with potatoes.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

    

    17 Comments

  1. When I’m visiting my sister in Norway, I’m like, am I supposed to eat that. haha!

    • Definitely some unique options here :D!

  2. A nice selection of Norwegian food there. Btw, smalahove is very regional, you will have to be in very certain places in Norway to get it. Other nice Norwegian dishes you will find everywhere are tårnkake (tower cake) and of course various dishes of whale meat.

    • Thanks for the heads up on Smalahove Johnny – I’ll have to look for tårnkake on our next visit, sounds right up my alley 😀 Thanks for sharing your local insight!

  3. Had Finnbiff at a place called Camp Tamok out of Tromso a few years back. Perfect by the fire after a day of sledding and hiking in the snow!

    • The perfect way to end a cold day David! Sounds like you had a wonderful trip 🙂 Awesome to hear you got some sledding and hiking in – such a beautiful country for outdoor recreation isn’t it!

  4. Rudoph ain’t vegan.

  5. I had reindeer in Finland. Tasted good.

    • Same! I had reindeer on pizza and it was really great 🙂

  6. Reindeer is no different to eating venison at home. Rudolph tastes great! 😂

  7. Norway is gonna happen in the next few years for sure!

  8. I had Reindeer sausages in Norway this time along with, (don’t hate me) whale. I’m still conflicted about eating it I have to say. It was like a very dark tuna and really good.

    • I had pilot whale in the Faroe Islands, so no judgement here. My approach is to immerse myself into local culture as much as possible, and that includes what they eat. Though I completely understand the conflict.

    • Agree 100%

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