Upon tasting a piece of Norwegian flatbread, a Parisian woman in the mid-1800s described it as having “the shape and size of a plate, and the same consistency”. With images of dried mutton, potato dumplings, cabbage stew and lutefisk, Nordic food has rarely been anything to write home about. That all changed in 2010, when Copenhagen’s Noma was named the world’s top restaurant by a panel of 800 chefs and critics, sending the foodie world into shock and turning tastebuds towards Scandinavian kitchens.
Even before this time, though, Norway had begun to reinvent its culinary identity, with new foodie movements, celebrity chefs and a series of government initiatives, such as the Arctic Menu Scheme and Taste of the Coast–aimed at supporting local food producers, preserving local farming traditions and championing the rich heritage of Norwegian ingredients. The country is now in the middle of a kitchen renaissance, returning to its long-standing local food traditions; once again, Norwegians are consulting their grandmothers’ recipe books.
Given nearly 25,000 kilometres of rugged coastline, 150,000 lakes and some of the world’s best angling rivers, it is no surprise that a huge variety of locally caught fish and seafood predominate in Norwegian kitchens. Norway’s diverse landscape also provides habitat to a range of sheep, elk, reindeer and woodland fowl that graze on some of the greenest, most unpolluted grasses in the world, lending their meat a rich, succulent taste. And the country’s temperate summers allow plants to ripen at a slower pace than elsewhere, infusing fruits and vegetables with a supple flavour that you can taste the instant they hit your tastebuds.