Typisk norsk - What is typical Norwegian?
A collection of local Norwegian pecularities
Well, what does it really mean when we say that something is typical Norwegian? What is special about this country and its inhabitants that distinguish it from others.
Based on my own experience and opinion of the locals I collected in one place many Norwegian peculiarities. I'm sure you will be amused by some of them.
Is that all? Surely not. Norway, as any other country, has much more about itself that it appears :)
Photo credit (c) http://www.ansa.no
Typisk Norsk - Lifestyle
Matpakke literally means "packed food". I placed it in this category, because it is really more a lifestyle than food. It defines simplicity, practicality and caring style of Norwegian life. Basically matpakke consists of single slices of bread with brunost, liverpai, salmon or bananas on top of it, carefully separated with sheets of paper and wrapped. It is popular among Norwegians in every age, that take it to school, to the university, when they go on a hiking trip or to their job places.
This is the most important aspect of Norwegian lifestyle. Norwegians truly love nature, their mountains, moon-like plateaus, forests, sea . Even though many modern Norwegians own apartments or houses in cities, they continue to live simple life close to the nature.
Very popular among them is owning a simple, wooden cottage (called hytte) in the mountains, sometimes in very remote places, even without electricity (they have gas-driven refrigerators!).
They spend there their holidays, vacations, weekends. Cottages are starting points for shorter and longer hiking trips during summer and ski tours during winter season. Did you ever hear that Norwegian are born with skis on their feet? It is sometimes almost literally true. Maybe not "with skis", but "on skis". I met a pregnant lady, who shortly before her term went on a skiing tour. A week or so later she successfully gave birth to her second son :)
Ah, and take a closer look at the guy on the photo. He is wearing shorts!
Another typical Norwegian "thing" is owning a boat, either a sailboat, motorboat or a simple wooden, little boat or kayak. They use them almost whole year round, with exemption for winter, which can be very harsh. Norwegians keep their boats in boathouses called naust.
Yeah, on a warm summer day you can clearly see that Norwegians being descendants of Vikings do have passion for sea travel.
Typisk Norsk - Food
Brunost (literally brown cheese) a brown Norwegian cheese with whey (cow, goat or mixed) as the main ingredient. Due to production process it cannot be called a real cheese. Brunost is made by boiling a mixture of milk, cream and whey carefully for several hours so that the water evaporates. The heat turns the milk sugar into caramel which gives the cheese its characteristic taste. It is ready for consumption as soon as it is packed in suitable sized blocks.
Brunost is used as a spread on bread, but can also be successfully used in sauces, often with juniper berries that will give the sauce a slight caramel taste. Brunost is also used as toppings on waffles.
PinnekjÃ¸tt and Smalahove
PinnekjÃ¸tt - lamb meat cured, dried, smoked and then steamed- is very popular in Western Norway, especially at Christmas. It is usually served with mashed rutabaga and potatoes. Smells ... peculiar (to say it mildly) but tastes well.
A hardcore version of pinnekjÃ¸tt is smalahove (sheep's head), a specialty from Voss, but popular also in other places of Western Norway. The skin and fleece of the head is torched, the brain removed, and the head is salted, sometimes smoked, and dried. The head is boiled for about 3 hours and served with mashed rutabaga and potatoes. The bravest enthusiasts dare to eat sheep's eye (it's true, I witnessed such a horror).
Typisk Norsk - Customs
Dugnad is a term used for voluntary work for the local society, usually in form of outdoor spring cleaning, gardening, building a barn or a playground for kids. The word "dugnad" was chosen as Norwegian national word in 2004.
Russ celebration (russefeiring) is a traditional high-school graduation ceremony, stretched to a couple of weeks it ends on 17th of May. Participants wear coloured overalls (each color means different type of school, for instance red - most common - for those qualified for admission to university studies), drive matching cars, vans, or buses, and celebrate almost continually during this period.
Typisk Norsk - Practical Invetions
The cheese slicer was invented and patented in 1925, production started in 1927. Mr Bjorklund was irritated at how difficult it was to cut the cheese nicely when you used the knife, so he invented the razor on the basis of a common carpenter plane. Bjorklund patented his cheese slicer on 27 February 1925.
Cheese slicer can be used to cut hard cheeses, as well as the distinctive Norwegian brunost. This tool can also cut the potatoes into thin flakes for making potato chips or peel asparagus and cucumber. A cheese grater can also be used to cut green cucumbers into thin slices.
Cheese slicer can be found in every Norwegian house.
Disposable grill (engangsgrill) consists of a small aluminum box with grate on top and charcoal inside, which is ignited with a match. This "device" burns only a short amount of time (usually 30-45 min) and can not be refilled or lit after shutdown. The grill is perfect for roasting hot dogs and other small things, but is not suitable for large cuts of meat. The grill is widely used by Norwegians on beaches, in parks and on short hiking tours. They care about their environment and nature, so burn out grills and all the waste goes into special bins.
Typisk Norsk - National and local symbols
Bunad is a traditional Norwegian clothing, typically of rural origin, closely connected to the Norway's traditional districts. The designs are typically elaborate, with embroidery, scarves, shawls and hand-made silver or gold jewelry. There are national dresses both for men and women, although women's bunads are more diverse and popular. Bunads are very precious to Norwegians, they are often inherited and can reach prices up to $10,000. Bunads are worn on the National Day (see below), but also on weddings, baptisms, confirmations and generally on solemn occasions.
17th of May
17th of May Norway celebrates its most important national holiday, the Constitution Day. Among Norwegians, the day is referred to simply as syttende mai (meaning May Seventeenth) or Nasjonaldagen (The National Day). The Norwegian Constitution was signed on May 17 in the year 1814 and declared Norway to be an independent nation, ending its union with Sweden.
During the whole day there are numerous, colorful parades, gathering huge crowds, with national Norwegian flags and national dresses - the bunads. The most important parade takes place in Oslo under balcony of the Royal Palace in presence of King Harald V and his family. Unlike other countries parades don't have military character, but gather school children with their parents, music corps, graduates (russ), etc.
Great piece of contemporary Norwegian folk music with traces of celtic rock. Good example of the sound of Norwegian language in its western version and lively, easy to listen music. One of my favorite Norwegian bands.
This is Norway ;-) - Hilarous video about Norway
A bonus here is this unforgettable Norwegian English. The guy who made this video has great sense of humor and lots of self-irony.
You know you've been in Norway too long when...
A little twisted, but says quite a lot. Some points are sooo true! :)
1. You think there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing
2. You associate warm rice porridge with Saturday and Xmas eve
3. It seems nice to spend a week in a small wooden cottage up in the mountains, with no running water and no electricity
4. You think cross-country skiing is the only "real" skiing
5. You know at least five different words describing different kinds of snow
6. A sharp intake of breath ("jah") has become part of your active vocabulary
7. You associate Friday afternoon with a trip to Vinmonopolet (The Wine Monopoly)
8. It's acceptable to eat lunch at 11.00 and dinner at 15.00
9. Your front door step is beginning to resemble a shoe shop
10. Silence is fun
Commercial break. Make your favorite coffee, take a deep breath and continue.
11. The reason you take the ferry to Denmark is:
a. duty free vodka
b. duty free beer
c. to party
12. It no longer seems excessive to spend 800 kr. on alcohol in a single night
13. Your old habit of being "fashionably late" is no longer acceptable. You are always on time.
14. You enjoy the taste of lutefisk and/or pinnekjott. Or even smalahove
15. You use "Mmmm" as a conversation filler
16. An outside temperature of 9 degrees Celsius is mild (in mid June)
17. You wear sandals with socks
18. You think riding a racing bike in the snow is a perfectly sensible thing to do (with or without snowtires)
19. You think it's acceptable to wrap your hotdog in a cold pancake
20. Can't remember when to say "please" and "excuse me"
What is life without commercials? Are you sure you don't wanna buy a cheese slicer?
Original cheese slicers by Bjorklund
21. You will leave a pub if you can't find a seat
22. You believe that having no choice of products in a supermarket makes it easier to shop
23. You don't mind paying the same for a 200 meter bus ride as you do for going 10 kms
24. You have more than one scarf
25. You have more than one hat and at least one of them has earflaps
26. You know the difference between Blue and Red ski wax
27. You don't fall over when walking on ice
28. Always prepare to catch the closing door if following too closely behind somebody
29. You know the rules to handball
30. You can prepare fish in five different ways without cooking it
31. You know Norway's results the last three years in the "Eurovision Song Contest"
32. You start to believe that if it wasn't for Norway's efforts the world would probably collapse soon
33. You find yourself speaking halfway Swedish with Swedes
34. You don't question the habit of always making "matpakke"
35. You can only buy your own drink at the bar even when you are with a group of people.
36. You get scared when a stranger randomly starts up a conversation with you
37. It feels natural to wear sport clothes and backpack in the cinema as everywhere else.
38. The first thing you do on entering a bank/post office/pharmacy etc. is look for the queue number machine.
39. You have only two facial expressions, smiling or blank.
40. You start believe that if it wasn't for Norway's efforts the world would collapse
Here you can say what are thinking about Norwegian. Or me and my lens ;)