Traditional Norwegian "farm" food is made by whatever can grow in the northern climate, be stored for a year until new crops come out, and contain enough energy for you to do hard work. Regional variances in traditional food are huge and hence, and what is thought to be "typical traditional" for one Norwegian might be totally unknown to another. Typical examples are variations of yeasted and unyeasted bread and other forms of bakery, porridges, soups, inventive uses of potato, salted and smoked meat, and fresh, salted or smoked fish. Dried cod tørrfisk and salted cod klippfisk are staples of coastal communities in the north and can be seen drying on outside racks in spring and summer. The national dish of Norway is fårikål, a stewed casserole of lamb's meat and cabbage.

Finer traditional food is usually based on hunted animals or fresh fish. Steak, medallions and meat balls from game, deer, reindeer and elk are highly appreciated foods with international reputation, so are fresh, smoked and fermented salmon varieties as well as a host of other fish products. Traditional pastries like lukket valnøtt marzipan-covered whipped cream cake are other original contributions to international cuisine. Cheese of various types is common, but one particularly Norwegian favorite is geitost goat-cheese, which is technically not a cheese but a type of fudge without all the sugar and cream but with various amounts of goat milk. The milder, more common varieties are made mostly of cow milk and bears a remarkable similarity to smooth peanut butter in colour, texture and taste. The stronger varieties are made purely of goat milk and considered an acquired taste.

Today, Norwegians use plenty of sliced bread for almost any meal except dinner, whereas recipes for hot meals will be taken from almost anywhere in the world, including of course the traditional kitchen, but seldom the most extreme examples. Lunch usually consists of some bread and snacks instead of a warm dish but this is then compensated by eating well at dinner time.

Norwegians are also known for eating a lot of frozen pizza.

food safety

Food safety is very good in Norway. Salmonella is very rare compared to other countries, and health officials inspect restaurants at a regular basis. Also tap-water is usually very nice; Voss water from Vatnestrøm in Aust-Agder is actually exported abroad, including USA.


Very few Norwegian cuisine restaurants have vegetarian meals on the menu, but will make something if asked, with varying success. Some of the few chains of stores/restaurants where you will always have a vegetarian option is Peppes Pizza, Dolly Dimple's, Egon, SubWay and Esso/On the run spinach panini.

allergies and diets

If you have allergies like lactose intolerance and gluten allergy, going to Peppe's Pizza, Dolly Dimple's, Subway and Burger King are good suggestions. But if you want to eat somewhere a little fancier, asking the maître d' at the restaurant is always good practice. In some cases, if it is not on the menu, they might be able to accommodate you anyway.

As the regulations for food is extremely strict in Norway, the ingredients for anything you buy is always printed on the packages, and if you ask, you will always be told what is contained in the food you order.

places to eat

Whale anyone?Yes, Norwegians eat whale. However, it's very seldom found in most ordinary restaurants, and chances are it might be overly expensive. Young Norwegians did not grow up with eating whale because of the moratorium in the 1980s. Although whaling started up again in the early 1990s, whale is no longer a staple food as it once was in the coastal areas. Norway only allows a limited catch of the minke whale as this specific species is not regarded endangered.

Eating out is expensive, with fast food starting from 50 kr and sit-down meals in a decent restaurant nearly always topping NOK200 or more for a main course. Even a take-away sandwich and a coffee at a gas station may cost you up to NOK70€9, USD11.50. One way to cut costs is self-catering, as youth hostels and guesthouses often have kitchens for their guests. Supermarkets and grocery stores are not hard to find, even in the smallest village there is usually more than one grocery store. The largest chains are Rimi, REMA 1000, Meny, ICA, Kiwi and Joker. Breakfast is often hearty and buffet-style, so pigging out at breakfast and skipping lunch is also an option. Buy/bring a lunchbox before attending breakfast, as most of the bigger hotels will allow you to fill it up for free from the breakfast buffet for eating later in the day.

For a cheap quick snack Norwegian-style, look no further than the nearest grill or convenience store, which will dish up a sausage pølse or hot dog grillpølse in either a hot dog bun brød or wrapped in a flat potato bread lompe for around NOK20-30. However prices can soar as high as NOK50 if you buy at the right read wrong places. In addition to ketchup and mustard, optional toppings include pickled cucumber sylteagurk, fried onion bits stekt løk and shrimp salad rekesalat. To get the most for your money, order a kebab i pita which is lamb meat roasted on a spit then fried when you order, served together with vegetables in a pita bread. This tastes great, is extremely filling and can be found for as little as kr 50 in central Oslo and Bergen. Outside, you will have to stick with your grillpølse.