Dec 1, 2006

The joys of spoiled food

I once asked a Danish co-worker if he liked rømmegrøt (sour cream porridge) and he said no. Nor did he like lutefisk (lye fish), or some other Norwegian delicacies. "I don't eat spoiled food," he said.

Human creativity never ceases to amaze me. Who figured out that live grubs, or whole-fried flying dog, or raw seal blubber, or deap-fried spiders were edible? Or that fish damaged by lye (as in being covered in ash after a warehouse fire) could be salvaged and turned into a delicacy that currently costs USD50 (inluding refills) at a restaurant?

October to December is lutefisk-season. My department have an annual Christmas dinner at Bryggeloftet, a restaurant in the heart of Bergen that serves traditional Norwegian (and a few local) dishes, and does it very well. Some of us choose pinnekjøtt (literally: stick meat), salted and dried ribs of mutton, steamed over birch sticks (traditionally), served with mashed turnips and boiled potatoes, with akevitt and beer as the preferred beverage. Pinnekjøtt is also the traditional Christmas dinner of Western Norway and I usually have it at the departmental Christmas dinner.

This year, however, I was in the mood for lutefisk. It has such a mellow flavor, it actually tastes better than regular boiled cod. The trick is to avoid any gelatenous consistency which you get if you over-cook for more than a second. Bryggeloftet has never failed at making firm, flaky fish. Add pepper, hot mustard and bacon bits for flavor (yummy!), and serve with pea stew and boiled potatoes. Beer and akevitt to drink. My favorite akevitt is Gammel Opland.

I ate everything on my plate and did nibble a bit of seconds. Spoiled fish is a delicacy!

10 comments:

Mark said...

http://www.jonathanlaughlin.com/archives/000404.php

There's something to sink yer teeth into!

Keera Ann Fox said...

I'm focusing on Norwegian cuisine.

Paula said...

GAK!!! I'd need more than one beer to try lutefisk.

Tim said...

I'd need a whole case of beer including akevitt to get down one swallow of lutefisk. Of course, that wasn't as bad as having smoked sheep's head staring at me one winter a few years back . . .

I'm looking forward to some ribbe, pinnekjøtt and the rest of Christmas dinner, though. I never though the dinners here would become such a part of my traditions, but it has. Yum . . . and that akevitt, so good with a good dinner. ;)

Keera Ann Fox said...

I usually need to be in the right mood (not necessarily drunk) for lutefisk, myself. I was this year.

Tim, I haven't had the opportunity to try sheep's head yet. I don't care for my food looking back at me, either.

En liten luring said...

Smalahåve må du prøve! Det e skamgodt!! Hehe

Klem fra en liten sau. bæææ!

Mark said...

"I'm focusing on Norwegian cuisine."

Oh. I thought we could discuss any cuisine that is better fed to the garbage disposal. I suppose any comments about haggis are out too?

;o)>

Keera Ann Fox said...

Min lille luring: Det er greit, det, bare maten ikke stirrer igjen, så!

throckey said...

We have a traditional Norwegian dinner every Christmas eve. My people are from Hedmark (specifially Hamar and Lillehamer back to somewhere around 1200)

We make rommegrot (pardon the lack of corect vowels) and pork sausages, pork meatballs, pork roast, new potatoes (harvesting US potatoes shortly after germination yields Norwegian potatoes) and porked pork porking pork. We call it the Norwegian meat fest. Akevitt is totally a part of the meal as it cuts through the grease of the pork.

People always ask me about lutefisk but my people aren't costal norwegians. They didn't get to eaqt the fresh stuff.

Keera Ann Fox said...

LOL, Throckey!

Nice to meet another rømmegrøt-eater.