Cuisine is a cornerstone of every culture, and in Norway, traditional food draws heavily on the raw materials available throughout the country, its mountains, wilderness and waters. Unlike the country's continental counterparts, Norwegian fare has a stronger focus on fish and game. According to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the Norwegian population is among the healthiest in the world, and diet plays a big role in it.
Seafood is the heart and soul of Norwegian fare. Norwegians love their fish and consume seafood an average of three to four times a week, according to the Norway Hei website. Fish is poached, smoked, grilled, fried, salted and dried, and cured. Sink your teeth into popular Norwegian meals such as Røkt laks (smoked salmon), fiskesuppe (fish soup), sild (pickled herring) and gravlaks, which is made with salmon filets marinated in a dill mixture and served with piquant mustard sauce.
With such a spread of wildlife, it leaves one to wonder what meats they bring home to the kitchen table. Game in Norway ranges widely, from goose to duck to reindeer. Often, game is grilled or roasted and served with traditional Norwegian side dishes, such as raspeballer, which is minced fish, fresh or salted, added to potato dough.
Norwegian breakfasts tend to revolve around sea, with meals including smoked salmon, fish in various sauces and marinades (such as sardines in mustard sauce or tomato sauce, or pickled herring), smoked whitefish served with hard-boiled eggs or carviar (kaviar in Norwegian). Dig in to lefse, which is the soft, Norwegian flatbread made of flour and milk or cream. The bread is often paired with Jarlsberg cheese, butter, fruit jam or any of the tasty smoked fishes Norway is famous for.
Come midday, make a sandwich of brown goat's cheese (geitost) or slices of salmon on lefse. Every child and most adults tuck their lunch fare into a bag ("matpakke," which literally means packed food) 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.
Dinner is usually simple, consisting of hot meat, boiled potatoes and vegetables - this is the only hot meal of the day. The common time to eat supper is 5 p.m.
Those on cruises in Norway won't want to miss dessert. Indulge in a sweet milk dish called gomme or rømmegrøt, which is 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 (160 quarts) 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 4.5 percent Norwegian beer or "blande," a cheap drink made from water and soured whey. Aqavit 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 imported wine.
On Hurtigruten voyages, your taste buds will be treated to "Norway's Coastal Kitchen," which is Hurtigruten's onboard dining that provides guests with the country's fresh, local ingredients from more than a hundred local suppliers along the coast.