Thursday, December 9, 2010

Julemat - Christmas food in Norway 1.

I think I would have been able to write about this topic even a month ago... It's been a couple of weeks now since grocery stores turned into some kind of Christmas food providers. The øl (beer) has become juleøl (Christmas beer), the skinke (ham) has turned into juleskinke (Christmas ham) and even marsipan has got the shape of a pig and the name julegris (Christmas pig - a pig-shaped marsipan dessert. Why exactly pig? I don't know, maybe because pork is the No.1 Christmas food in Norway). Not to mention the myriad of Christmas cakes available in the shops...

Christmas food can depend on where actually you live in Norway. However, the most common dish for Christmas is svineribbe (pork ribs) with crispy skin on top. It has been scandalous with pork this year - in many stores they were selling it for a ridiculously low price to attract customers which led to a shortage on this kind of meat and to the fact that importation is needed to provide the Christmas dinner of Norwegians.
But ok, let's say we've managed to get some in the shop. How to prepare it? Take a look at this video where Ingrid Espelid Hovig (I wrote about her earlier here) reveals the secret of a delicious svineribbe... I think it's worth taking a look at the video even if you don't know any Norwegian - the end result gir vann i munnen (makes mouth water)...

Pinnekjøtt (literally means 'meat on the stick') is the name for dried and smoked ribs of lamb which is also a very common Christmas dinner in many families. Served with potatoes, mashed cauliflower and sometimes Brussel sprouts, it's considered to be a poor man's food.

The dried leg of lamb is called fenelår. You can buy it "ready-cut" but since that's way too expensive, most people buy the whole leg. It's really delicious and tastes very "lamby". People eat it as a snack. This is what it looks like:

Another essential part of many Christmas dinners in Norway is the so called medisterpølse which is a white sausage made of pork. You can also buy the medisterkake which has the form of a meat ball.

Surprisingly, those eating fish on the 24th are a minority in Norway. The Christmas fish is mainly torsk (cod) that they cook until it gets a jelly consistency. This jelly fish (not jellyfish ha ha ha) is called lutefisk. One of my acquintances (a lady who comes from the very North of Norway but currently lives in Kristiansand) was complaining that people in Southern Norway are unable to make good lutefisk but it's so delicious in the Northern part of the country...! Well, apart from her, noone has told me anything good about the lutefisk yet. I guess I will have to make up my own mind about it.

And sist men ikke minst (last but not least): since eating kalkun (turkey) on Christmas Eve is traditional in quite a few countries, there are families who have roasted turkey on their table.

Just a personal remark in the end. Growing up in a family where we always had mushroon soup and bread pudding with poppy seed for Christmas, it's interesting for me to see that the majority of people in Norway have meat on the menu. You can eat pretty much anything here: pork, lamb, turkey, fish... except maybe chicken and beef.

Which one of the dishes above would you want to try? :)

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