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To the customs officials in Newark, NJ my souvenir reindeer jerky was an international threat. But in Norway, where BACKPACKER embarked on an epic gear test, reindeer jerky is akin to a Slim Jim, an easy-to-eat (and acquire) trail snack that’s immensely palatable. Too bad my husband will never get to taste it. Thankfully, the ice cube tray-size chocolate bar slid right through the X-ray machines, as did a handful of other Norwegian snacks (including some very special cheese) that many Americans have been missing out on. Here’s a round-up:
OK, OK, we have an abundance of waffles in the U.S. Entire Houses devoted to them in fact. But Norwegian waffles are made in super thin waffle makers and are the go-to snack for drop-in guests. Topped with Lingonberry jam (also an accompaniment to reindeer and moose dishes) or any number of cheeses and creams and things from the sea, they’re the perfect quick bite after a long day’s hike, or ski in our case.
After initial protests over the demise of poor Rudolph, we found reindeer on our table and in our packs time and time again. Our guide whipped it up with instant potatoes and mushrooms high in a public cabin on the Folgefonna glacier. A second guide plunked it in spaghetti sauce. And at the grocery store we steered away from the horse salami for the reindeer version – guided by the picture of Rudolph on the packaging.
Kvikk Lunsj (A.K.A “Quick Lunch”, A.K.A. Kit-Kat bar)
Norwegian chocolate bars bring new meaning to the term “super sized.” One of our favorites was the obvious Kit-Kat knockoff (who knocked off who I don’t know) called Kvikk Lunsj which literally translates to “quick lunch.” Apparently, back in the good ol’ days, intrepid hikers would pack a Kit-Kat bar and an orange (confusingly called an “appelsin”) for their on-slope or on-trail lunch. This is no longer the practice, although “energy bars” as we know them have yet to infiltrate the country.
If where you live has a thriving Scandanavian influence, chances are you’ve had lefse. This flatbread-like snack is typically lathered in butter and cinnamon and frequently folded into triangles. One guide brought a few freezer bags of the stuff and had all the editors with children proclaiming it the perfect after-school snack (at least until they could find a thin waffle maker). (P.S. If you have an easy recipe for DIY lefse, drop it in the comments!)
Basically if we were having bread (and their sandwich bread is like thin English muffin tops) or reindeer salami, or, well, a meal, we were also having cheese. One of the areas we visited, near the town of Roldal, is known for a brown-colored goat cheese, Brunost, that tastes like caramel/peanut butter/cheese. It is an acquired taste (which might be why customs let it slide). We also had slices and slices of Jarlsberg and Skivet Gulsot.
And who can forget the meat paste? This squeeze tube of paste was basically mayonnaise with meat flecks and makes me queasy just thinking about it. But all-in-all, the snacks and meals in Norway were excellent and easily fueled us through miles of ups and downs while the energy bars we shucked over from the States became the backup plan.