Norwegian Ways


When the last ice age finally backed off ten thousand years ago, the human population were more than happy to wave goodbye to snow and ice. But of course there were freaks in the Stone Age, too.

The first Norwegians were the ones who actually followed the glaciers back north. That’s right. These anomalities became ancestors to the modern Norwegians, and the gene for madness is what separates Norwegians from others, even today.

Let’s begin this by explaining a typical Norwegian eating habit.

Do you think it’s barbaric to eat with your fingers? Norwegians too. Unless the food has been wrapped in paper first.

From kindergarten and all the way through school, Norwegian kids are equipped with a matpakke from their parents. The matpakke is also common in public offices (where the cafeteria is a tragedy anyway) on universities and of course; on tur (hiking).

The food is supposed to be wrapped in paper, despite the fact that the matpakke always is squeezed and smashed to pieces by the time you’re supposed to eat it. It doesn’t seem to bother Norwegians much. They will wrap it in paper next time as well.

Essential ingredients:

Brødskive. A matpakke consists of at least one slice of bread, but usually two or three.

Smør. Salted butter is important not only because of the taste, but also to glue slices of cheese, meat, etc. to the bread. Anything but the real McCoy is a no-no.

Pålegg. In theory you can put anything on the bread. But not too fancy stuff. Salami is ok, pastrami is not. It depends on how long Norwegians have been aware of it. As long as it has been in use since the World War two, it’s ok.

Ost. Cheese is almost never wrong. But then again, French brie was never meant for a matpakke. Keep it simple.

Grønt. Most Norwegian stop after the above step. But the bold ones dare to freshen up a little with something green. It’s ok, but it’s a thin line between cucumber and over the top.


1. Spread the butter on the slice of bread. Make sure that the butter fills every little hole.

2. Place the slices of salami on the bread, one on the right side, slightly overlapping to cover the whole slice of bread.

3. Place the cucumber on top of the salami.

4. Cover with a protective piece of mellomleggspapir.

5. Wrap it in matpapir – se the instructions below.

Fig. 1 Precision
Rip off a piece of paper. Place the slices of bread in the centre.

Fig. 2 The roll
Wrap one side of the paper over the slice of bread and continue into a roll, clockwise.

Fig. 3 Completing the roll
Continue rolling until the whole slice is covered in paper.

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Fig 4 The crumble
Crumbe up the paper edges on the right – then repeat on the left.

Fig 5 Voila
Here you go. A perfect matpakke for a perfect lunch.

Norwegian ways consist of many weird customs. More to come!

Text and photos: Tor Kjolberg