Eating Traditional Cuisine in Norway: What to Expect
Norway's visitors often wonder what kind of food they should expect to find on their trip. Here's a brief overview of the kinds of meals you might have when traveling to Norway.
Seafood in Norway
Fish makes up much of Norwegian cuisine. This probably comes as no surprise—after all, you're never far from the ocean in the Land of the Midnight Sun! In fact, many of Hurtigruten's cruises have onboard fishing demonstrations, which give you the chance to get a first-hand look at how the Norwegian fishing industry works.
The great thing about enjoying seafood in Norway is that it's guaranteed to be fresh. Your proximity to both fresh and seawater means that any fish you eat will be a cut above the rest. The freshness makes a big difference compared to the cuts found in your local freezer section.
Meat in Norway
Adventurous carnivores will leap at the chance to try reindeer and elk, both of which are fairly easy to find in Norway. In fact, reindeer is one of the country's local delicacies.
Lamb is also frequently included in Norwegian cuisine. Fårikål, a dish made up of boiled mutton and cabbage served with boiled potatoes, is very popular in the country. Most of the food you'll find will be simply prepared and very lightly seasoned, since the culinary standard in Norway is to rely on the flavor of the food. Still, this causes many visitors to think Norwegian food is bland.
Vegetarians in Norway
While on board a Hurtigruten cruise, there are certainly vegetarian options offered. However, when off the ship, you're likely to have limited options if you don't eat meat or fish. Outside of the major cities, you'll probably need to supplement your diet with food from local supermarkets.
Photo: Jens Haugen, Jimmy Linus/Tinagent, Raymond Fishman - Gästefoto and Ørjan Bertelsen
Meals – Indulge in a Norwegian Breakfast
Norwegian breakfasts tend to revolve around the sea, with meals including smoked salmon, fish in various sauces and marinades (such as sardines in mustard or tomato sauce, or pickled herring), or smoked whitefish served with hard-boiled eggs or caviar. Dig in to lefse, a soft Norwegian flatbread made of flour and milk or cream, which is often paired with Jarlsberg cheese, butter, jam, or any of the tasty smoked fishes Norway is famous for.
Lunch is arguably the best time to try local restaurants and cafes, as they tend to have specials during the middle of the day. Norwegian cuisine can be very expensive, but eating out during lunchtime can let you explore the meal options without going over budget. Come midday, make a sandwich of brown goat cheese, called geitost locally, or slices of salmon on lefse.
Every child and most adults tuck their lunch fare into a bag, matpakke, before going to school or work. Open-faced sandwiches are a tradition in Scandinavian nations, and popular options in Norway are made with a buttered slice of toast, typically whole-grain rye, topped with meatballs, herring, fish filets, or liver pate. Surprisingly, hot dog lunches are also a crowd favorite—a typical Norwegian eats 100 a year, almost one every three days.
For dinner, you can expect the aforementioned fish and red meat meals. If you're eating out, your best bet for your budget may be visiting an all-you-can-eat buffet. These types of restaurants are fairly common throughout the country, and will give you the chance to try many different foods at once.
When in Norway, you should not miss the opportunity of trying the amazing king crab. The further north you go, the cheaper they are, but they're always tasty. Reindeer is another delicacy most visitors should sample.
Those on cruises in Norway won't want to miss dessert. Indulge in a sweet milk dish called gomme or rømmegrøt, a sour cream porridge. Follow that with layer cake stuffed with whipped cream and jam and then pick between the pyramid of almond macaroon rings or iron-shaped cookies rolled into cones in classic Norwegian fashion.
The average Norwegian consumes 40 gallons of milk annually. If voyagers swing by a market, chances are they'll find milk cartons from the two dairy companies, Tine melk and Q melk.
For other beverages, opt for the Norwegian beer or "blande," a cheap drink made from water and soured whey. Aquavit is Norway's famous liquor export, made from potatoes flavored with caraway. Looking for something fancy? The Vinmonopolet (The Wine Monopoly) is the country's special shop, a chain, for imported wine and liquor.
Onboard Hurtigruten Cruises
On Hurtigruten's Norwegian coastal cruises, your taste buds will be treated to Norway's Coastal Kitchen, our onboard dining that provides guests with the country's fresh, local ingredients from more than a hundred local suppliers along the coast.