Western Norway – The Storehouse Area

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Western Norway includes Moere og Romsdal, Sogn og Fjordane and Hordaland. It is an area which possesses a “fortune” of resources both on land and sea.

There is an area off the northwest-coast, which the locals call the “Storehouse Area”. The name originates from the always availability of fish there; it was like collecting food from a storehouse.

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However, It was not always so easy. In tight years, when the sea was “empty” and both herring and other fish were missing, the small farms came to rescue. The tough people in this area are known for their ability to survive under scarce conditions – all the way back to ancient times.

Fishing vessel in Western Norway
Fishing vessel in Western Norway

The west coast is perhaps best known for its mighty fjords, which is surrounded by green hillsides and waterfalls falling several hundred meters down into the sea. These wonderful waterways make it possible to sail from the North Sea straight into the heart of Norway. At the tip of the west coast we find a climate which is typical coastal, with mild winters and chilly summers, while areas farther into the country have a distinctly transitional climate. The countryside is very diverse. We find all kinds of environments. That way the west coast is Norway in a nutshell; we find roaring rivers, beautiful mountain peaks and calm water. The coastline is a chapter in itself with a myriad of large and small islands.

Western Norwegian Fjord
Western Norwegian Fjord

Møre
From Norse times Møre meant “land by the sea”, and oceans are plentiful in Norway. The Norwegian Sea crashes against the northwestern coast, and several of the country’s residents live on islands and are dependent on ferries. The inner part of the country is dominated by mountains which attract thousands of tourists from home and abroad. Møre og Romsdal’s premier attraction is Trollstigveien (The Troll’s ladder Road) and the Troll’s peaks with its famous Trollveggen (Troll’s wall).

Troll's Ladder, Westwern Norway
Troll’s Ladder, Westwern Norway

Sunnmørsalpene (the Sunnmøre Alps) and the Geiranger Fjord are other tourist attractions. Although the tourism industry is the fastest growing industry in the area, there are still other industries that have kept people employed since ancient times. Fishery has of course been extremely important.

The Sunnmoere Alps
The Sunnmoere Alps

The coastal population was incredibly resourceful in obtaining variety in their diet. Fish were obviously cooked in all varieties; be it kamsehoder (heads of a particular fish), komperute (kind of potato balls), sildesodd and sildesuppe (kind of herring soups), blandaball (mixed potato balls) or lutefisk (dried whitefish treated with lye).

Blandaball
Blandaball

Thin wafer crispbread was made here as elsewhere in the country, and barley was mixed into in the dough for party and feast. Lefse (soft flatbread) was also served on special occasions

Lefse
Lefse

Meat was a valuable commodity and gave people access to cash. For ordinary people, fresh meat on the dinner table was a rarity. It was usually salted or dried. At weddings, christening and funerals bærekurver (food baskets) were distributed. This and most other ancient customs have been lost along the way.

Old Norwegian trunk, photo Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum
Old Norwegian trunk, photo Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum

Norwegian Nettle Soup
This is a simple and good soup. Nettle found almost everywhere and are a great resource. Pick it into summer, blanch and freeze.

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Serving 4 persons:

1 onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pints/1l broth
2 tablespoons thick cream
½ carrier bag blanched and finely chopped nettle tops
salt and freshly grinded white pepper

Method:

Peal and finely chop the onion, carefully fry it in a pan in olive oil. Liquidize with broth and running cream. Bring it to the boil and let it boil for 5 minutes. Add the nettle and let it cook for a couple minutes more.

Taste with salt and pepper.

If you want a somewhat thicker soup use cornstarch and water.

Serve with freshly baked brown rolls.

Western Norway – The Storehouse Area, written by Tor Kjolberg

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