My guide was Camilla Bjørn, a lifestyle journalist for VG, Norway’s largest newspaper. She was very patient with me.
1. Matpakke: a light breakfast or lunch spread
Behold, the staple of any good Norwegian breakfast or lunch: a piece of flatbread called knekkebrød with all sorts of spreads to go on top. Here we have a tube of caviar, two single-serving containers of paté (one liver, one mackerel), smoked salmon, a packet of mayo, and some sliced cucumbers.
I watched as Camilla expertly sliced up an egg, put it on top of some wholesome looking brown bread, and drizzled cod roe caviar on top. The caviar was slightly sweet, but fishy. I felt like I was getting a nice protein boost. The caviar came in a single serving size but also comes in a much bigger tube.
4. Knekkebrød (flatbread) with mackerel-tomato paste and mayonnaise
At first I didn’t taste the mackerel. Then I did.
This vision of goodness — a bread station! — was in VG’s cafeteria, which is on the 8th floor of a downtown Oslo office building with lovely views of the city. Norwegians know it’s not healthy to eat lunch at your desk. :(
The display of canned fish and fish spreads at a grocery store in Oslo.
7. Raisin bolle (bun) with brown cheese
Bolle are like the national bun of Norway. They come in many different varieties, they’re very cheap, and (usually) quite soft and delicious. This one had raisins in it. Camilla cut it in half, spread butter on it, and put cheese on it. The cheese was creamy and almost a little sweet.
8. Skolebrød and Cinnamon Bolle
Then it was time for sweets. Camilla took me to a bakery (there are numerous chains of decent bakeries all over Oslo) so we could get skolebrød, a coconut bolle that had delicious vanilla cream inside. This was a fun explosion of sugar. I liked it. The cinnamon bolle was like a Cinnabon but again with the vanilla cream inside.
This was probably my favorite item of the afternoon: a thin, pancake-like waffle with sour cream and strawberry jam. I liked that the waffle wasn’t as sweet as waffles I’ve had in the U.S., and the jam/sour cream combo was A+. I could have eaten five of these. (Camilla said you can also eat them with brown cheese on top, which didn’t sound as appealing.)
This was a very light, cream-filled chocolate log covered in coconut. It was delicious.
These are like a sweet tortilla with cream and sugar inside. Camilla told me that LEFSA are “huge, especially in the west” of Norway. “All the old farm ladies have round frying pan where they prepare it. It’s baked wheat, like a sweet tortilla, and they put cinnamon and cream and sugar. It’s like a Norwegian churro.” My professional analysis is you can never go wrong with the holy trinity of carbs, butter, and sugar.
12. Skyr Icelandic yogurt
Icelandic yogurt is apparently all the rage in Norway at the moment. For some reason Icelandic yogurt (low-fat, high protein, very creamy and rich) hasn’t caught on in the U.S. as much as Greek yogurt has, but this was pretty tasty.
13. Reindeer meatballs
I didn’t actually try them, but I was somewhat disturbed/confused by the extremely jaunty reindeer on the side of the package. Does he know he’s about to be eaten?!