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Must-Try Foods From a Norwegian Supermarket

Norwegian lunch food: Mills Polar Kaviar in a tube
Polar kaviar is a common lunchtime ‘treat' in Norway. Photo: Mills

Norwegian cuisine is easily accessible to visitors and new arrivals. Discover the weird and wonderful food items you can buy from a supermarket in Norway.

Whether you are moving to another country or just visiting, one of the main things you have to adjust to is the local cuisine. Norway is no different in that respect. A trip to your nearest supermarket is all it takes to discover the weird and wonderful world of Norwegian foods.

Norwegian supermarkets are places where you'll find foods that will delight your taste buds and turn your stomach. The following items are some of Norway's best-loved – and hated – foods.

From the distinctive brown cheese to the skier’s favourite, Kvikk Lunsj, Norway has many interesting foods. This article will both inspire you and probably put you off some items. Either way, it will give you an insight in the world of Norwegian supermarket foods.

Brown cheese

When people talk of food in Norway, brown cheese (brunost) comes up more often than not before anything else. This traditional Norwegian favourite can be purchased in all supermarkets, large and small.

Technically it isn’t cheese, rather ‘whey’, a by-product of cheese. It is tan in colour with caramel-like smell. The first time I tried it, I didn’t quite know what to make of it.

Read more: All about Norwegian cheeses

In terms of texture, it can feel quite dry and gummy on the tongue, with a taste of caramel to match its smell. It seems to go through various stages of taste as its consumed. Some types of brown cheese are sweeter than others, so you can find one that's right for you.

Blocks of brunost, Norwegian brown cheese

There are different types of brown cheese and the most commonly consumed types are those manufactured by TINE, the country's main dairy company. Gudbrandsdalsost the ‘original’ brown cheese and the most common brand.

The cheese comes sliced, or you can buy in solid cubes and slice yourself, which is strangely satisfying. Ostehøveler (cheese slicers) at the ready!

Kvikk Lunsj

Launched in 1937 by the Norwegian chocolate company Freia, Kvikk Lunsj is a sweet treat that definitely goes into the ‘wonderful category’. In English it means, you guessed it, quick lunch!

It consists of four fingers, each has with thin layers of chocolate between each of the wafer layers, and is fully coated in Freia milk chocolate – what’s not to like?

Read more: All about Norwegian chocolates

The red, yellow and blue packing has become an iconic sight on supermarket/convenience store shelves, and the chocolate bar is heavily linked to Norwegian culture. It’s popular most in Easter and during the ski season and is also enjoyed as a popular addition to a hiking lunch.

Yes, it looks just like a Kit Kat, but tastes, in my opinion, so much better. Which is perhaps why Freia produce 50 million bars in Norway each year.

The Norwegian Kvikk Lunsj chocolate bar

Kaviar (and other food in tubes)

In Norwegian supermarkets you will find different types of foods in tubes, from cheese to kaviar. A very popular choice for Norwegians, kaviar is a smoked cod row which is creamed then pumped into tubes.

Kaviar goes great on bread or crispbread (knekkebrød). It is convenient to squirt onto bread because of its consistency and because it’s in a tube. These tubes are popular in Norwegian lunchboxes because of their portability and lack of mess. There's plenty to choose from on the shelves!

Kaviar has a strong, salty flavour and is also strong in smell, so you may want to have the mints or gum at the ready after eating it.

In addition to kaviar in tubes, there are also numerous varieties of soft cheeses. One of my favourites is the bacon cheese. Again, this is another food that is a popular choice in Norwegian lunch boxes.

Mackerel and other tinned fish

Norway is a country famed for its fishing industry which is often associated with salmon and sardines.

But there is also mackerel, a type of tuna fish that can be caught locally in Spring and early autumn when the fish migrate closed inland. The most popular form in supermarkets is tinned mackerel (but it can also be bought in a tube if you prefer).

Mackerel is a slightly darker fish in colour with a higher fat count. Its flavour is somewhat milder than sardines, with a richer taste. If you can handle the distinctive, potent scent, it might be worth a try.

For me, I have bad child memories of fishing for mackerel with my father, and so to this day, the smell of the fish still puts me off.

Mackerel in supermarkets comes in various flavours, including olive oil and the most popular, in tomato sauce. Because the fish contains high levels of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B, there are many health benefits to eating mackerel.

Marzipan

Norwegian marzipan (marsipan in Norwegian) is my favourite thing to buy from a supermarket.

Marsipan

Nidar is the most prolific producer of marzipan in Norway, which is most popular at Easter time and during the run up to Christmas, when the they produce many different types.

My favourite time of the year to buy marzipan is in November and December, it's a reminder that Christmas is coming. Made mostly from sugar and ground almonds, marzipan is the perfect winter treat in Norway.

Have you eaten any of these foods? What did you make of them? What else should someone try from a Norwegian supermarket? Let us know!

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About the Author: Mathew Paul Gundersen

Mathew is an English – part Norwegian – guy living in Oslo, where he is a master's student in Ibsen Studies at the University of Oslo. In June 2019, he graduated with a bachelor degree in English Literature from the University of Buckingham. Mathew is also a writer, an English teacher, media specialist and general Norway enthusiast. His Great Grandfather was Norwegian and this is what brought about an initial move to Norway and Stavanger in 2016. Mathew's personal blog can be found here: godfoten.wordpress.com.

6 Comments

  1. Hi! Great article! I have recently tried the Brown cheese and lived it! I have visited Norway many times – I live the cafe flot – the cream for coffee, in fact I think it’s great that the Norwegians have so many different creams! Bread is usually nice and cripsbreads too! I often cook to save money – good well stocked supermarkets!

  2. The very light brown “brunost”, yes is almost a caramel. Once all the protein is removed from milk, what is left is a concentrated lactose. As you might know, heated sugar solutions, with a small amount of milk is caramel. With whey that is what you have, a sugar solution with a small bit of milk protein, and it is heated until it gets to be like this syrup. Poured into a block and cooled – brunost ! ! The differences in the browns is due to the source of milk, i.e. cow, goat, etc.

  3. Freia chocolate is the best and I always buy some to take back home. I’m ready to go again for the chocolate and also the Norwegian cream cheese that I can purchase locally.

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