If I ask you to name an Italian dish, you may think of pizza, pasta or gelati but what if I were to ask you about Norwegian delicacies? Apart from smoked salmon and maybe meat from moose, you may have a hard time naming even one of them. And yet Norwegian delicacies do exist. Here are 3 of the finest ones.
The advantage of this dish is that its name says it all. Well, if you speak Norwegian, that is. “Smala” (or “smale”) is a sheep and “hove” is the head. So together, the name means “the head of the sheep” which is what this dish is about.
As you can see on this photo I took, this dish looks very appetizing. Don’t you just want to move to Norway just to have some?
The thing is that lamb is a very appreciated meat in Norway so it is not surprising that the head is cooked too. Being against waste myself, I must say that I am happy that some people appreciate this delicacy, even if I personally would rather have other parts of the animal.
Next, let me introduce to you, the “Lutefisk”, also known as … the “chemical fish”. Not because the fish comes from a river polluted with chemicals but because the fish was cooked with some.
“Lute” is the Norwegian word for “lye” (or “caustic soda” or “sodium hydroxide”). This is the kind of chemicals used in housecleaning products. But Norwegian people thought it would be of better use in cooking.
So, is this dish dangerous? Normally not, because after being “cleaned” with caustic soda, the fish is then washed.
On the photo (unfortunately, not my photo, I didn’t take any of the two times I ordered it), you may not realize it but the result is a bit gelatinous. You could think of it as a Jelly fish. The taste itself felt to me quite similar to a fish you would cook by steaming it.
The drink to accompany this dish is generally Aquavit, a strong Scandinavian spirit and a common joke is that it is needed because if you wouldn’t get drunk you would remember the taste of this dish and wouldn’t eat it again.
For the record, this dish is also appreciated in Denmark, Sweden, etc… so more a Scandinavian delicacy than a Norwegian one.
While the other two dishes had clear defined names, this one is a bit more mysterious. Some people call it raspeballer, komle, kompe, kumle, or basically whatever you want that starts with ‘k’, has some sounds in the middle and finishes with ‘e’ (pronounced as the ‘a’ of alas).
So what is it? It is some balls made of potato and flour. It is very dense (think cement) and tastes quite bland (still, cement is a good image).
However, the dish can be quite nice as these balls are generally accompanied with nice meats (or was it the meats which had komler as garnish?): bacon, sausages, salted lamb (not the head). It is also generally served with some puree.
Among the 3 delicacies presented here, this one is my personal favorite but I would not recommend it to vegetarians and vegans as you would miss the best of the dish.
Photo Credit: courtesy of http://stavangourmet.blogspot.no
I hope that his selection of Norwegian specialties won’t prevent you from visiting this country. It is a beautiful one with amazing fjords and stunning scenery. And, don’t worry, you will find “normal” food too.