This year we went to Norway to spend time with my wife’s family and particularly for Edel to spend time with her grandparents. I know it has been some time since my last post about waking your child up. But I thought this topic would be interesting for you.
A staple of this quality time is over breakfast (There is a photo of my daughter with her grandfather at the end of the post). In Norway, a staple of breakfast is the amazing Open Faced Sandwich.
Pålegg – Myriad Combinations on bread.
This is the staple breakfast (frokost) in Norwegian food culture, and is comprised of Pålegg on bread.
Pålegg is a collective term for the condiments that you can choose to put onto bread. There is a huge choice, from the usual suspects of cold cuts, jams and cheese, to herring, meatcakes, fish pudding and salads. Here’s a guide to pålegg combinations for the uninitiated.
Source: Brown Cheese Please by Jenny K Blake
She even has a note to this diagram in her book.
NB: no responsibility held for misunderstandings of chart and consequently the creation of a potentially lethal pålegg combination.
While I have not experienced any physical side effects, at my first tries I remembered my wife’s expressions when I made some non-conventional combinations.
To sample as diverse pålegg as I could, I opted to cut my slice of bread into 2, thereby trying 2 different toppings with one slice. Often breakfast would be comprised between 2-3 open faced sandwiches, which means I get a chance to do 6 different combos. What I normally do is try 4 different ones, and then the last slice I choose which 2 of those I would like to have more of.
Here are some of the Open Faced Sandwiches which I had in this year’s trip.
Meats galore. To satisfy the carnivore in us 🙂
Scrambled eggs, or eggs for that matter are never just eggs. At the minimum you need ketchup, and here you see it paired with smoked salmon. Really quite good.
Ah Kjøttkake. These, otherwise known as Meat-cakes, must be my favourite pålegg. Particularly the ones cooked by my mother-in-law. Its much meatier than the Swedish meat balls, and the caramelized onions completes it.
Here’s the meat-cakes with a twist, my mother-in-law suggested using Remoulade (dressing made with hard-boiled egg yolks, oil, and vinegar, and flavoured with mustard, capers, and herbs). I can see how the creaminess rounds off the meat, but I think I do prefer it without.
The Norwegian fish pudding are rather mild in flavour, which serves as a great base for the Shrimp salad (rekesalad).
Back to the meat-cakes without the remoulade 🙂
The one on the right I think is a really Norwegian thing – Brown Cheese (brun ost). Its so quintessentially Norwegian that it was the title of that aforementioned book by Jenny Blake, Brown Cheese Please. It really is a tan-coloured whey cheese with a distinctive caramel flavour, as described by David Nikel.
They come in this rectangular blocks, and this year the popular brand Moods of Norway even did something fun for the packaging.
Believe me, the Norwegians are very serious about their Brown Cheese. Apparently it’s even one of the distinctive features of Norwegians studying abroad. It might even warrant a post on its own.
Ok for now, back to the sandwiches.
I must say that while it tasted good, but the salami’s texture needed finer cutlery skills than mine. The egg kept falling off the bread as I was trying to cut through the salami.
The smoked ham on scrambled eggs was a winner though.
I haven’t been a fan of salami except in the context of a pizza, but the combination with “Italian Salad” (really a type of coleslaw) worked somewhat.
The brown cheese with jam always a favourite.
Ok, this was trying to be a bit ambitious and aped my mother-in-law. Pork, gul ost and clementine. Quite interesting.
There’s my second Salami with Italian salad. it was growing on me.
The classic fish pudding with shrimp salad is a favorite of my wife’s and its always good.
The turkey and Italian salad also worked.
My father-in-law loves this, herring on slices of hardboiled egg. I gave it a shot and for me its very North European (this type of herring), and its quite a tantalizing mix. The heady flavours of the herring is ameliorated by the eggs.
A Family that Eats Together
There has been quite a bit of research about the benefits of having meals together as a family and the Norwegians are very big on that.
Even though my daughter is a little bit of a slow eater, her granddad (morfar) has a way with her.
Cabin in the mountains
Pålegg is also really popular and suitable everywhere, particularly if we did another Norwegian pastime, going to a Cabin (Hytte) in the mountains for the weekend.
My wife and her sister coordinated on the meals and they decided that this would be the spread that we tucked into to open the Cabin Weekend.
Here’s the sandwiches I made from this
Pretty straight forward, but its good to mix the hot condiments (scrambled eggs) and cold cuts.
Soft cheese is a bit unsual for breakfast I am told, but great for hytte living.
It was a brilliant trip and we are really grateful to my wife’s family for their hospitality and the great food.
I trust you liked this post, and that you’ll consider trying this classic Norwegian cuisine.
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