Bread - Pasta - Cheese - Rice Sauces - Soups - Desserts Herbs and spices Other ingredients
Norwegian cuisine is in its traditional form largely based on the raw materials readily available in a country dominated by mountains, wilderness and the sea. Hence, it differs in many respects from its continental counterparts with a stronger focus on game and fish.
Modern Norwegian cuisine, although still strongly influenced by its traditional background, now bears the marks of globalization: Pastas, pizzas and the like are as common as meatballs and cod as staple foods, and urban restaurants sport the same selection you would expect to find in any western european city.
Meat and game
Fruits and berries mature slowly in the cold climate. This makes for a tendency to smaller volume with a more intense taste. Strawberries, blueberries, lingonberries, raspberries and apples are popular and are part of a variety of desserts, and cherries in the parts of the country where those are grown. The wild growing cloudberry is regarded as a delicacy. A typical Norwegian dessert on special occasions is cloudberries with whipped or plain cream.
German and Nordic-style cakes and pastries, such as sponge cakes and Danish pastry (known as "wienerbrød", literal translation: "Viennese bread") share the table with sweet breads - "kaffebrød" (literally: "coffee bread", named for its accompaniment, not ingredients), waffles and biscuits. Cardamom is a common flavouring.
Coffee is an extremely common part of social life, enjoyed both before and after dinner, with bread, desserts and liquor. The average Norwegian consumes 160 litres of coffee p.a, or ten kilogrammes per person. 80% of the population drinks coffee. As in the rest of the west, recent years have seen a shift from coffee made by boiling ground beans to Italian-style coffee bars, tended by professional baristas.
Both industrial and small-scale brewing have long traditions in Norway. Restrictive alcohol policies have encouraged a rich community of brewers, and a colourful variety of beverages both legal and illegal. The most popular industrial beers are usually pilsners and red beers (bayer), while traditional beer is much richer, with a high alcohol and malt content. The ancient practice of brewing Juleøl (yule beer) persists even today, and imitations of these are available before Christmas, in shops and, for the more potent versions, at state monopoly outlets. Cider brewing has faced tough barriers to commercial production due to alcohol regulations, and the famous honey wine, mjød (mead), is mostly a drink for connoisseurs and practitioners of the native religion. The climate has not been hospitable to grapes for millenia, and wines and more potent drinks are available only from the wine monopolies.
Distilled beverages include akevitt, a yellow-tinged liquor spiced with caraway seeds, also known as akvavit or other variations on the latin aqua vitae - water of life. The Norwegian "linie" style is distinctive for its maturing process, crossing the equator in sherry casks stored the hull of a ship, giving it more taste and character than the rawer styles of other Scandinavian akevitter. Norway also produces some vodkas, bottled water and fruit juices.