Lunch is one of my main drivers in life. Hence this blog and hence extreme work satisfaction when I joined the Asian food gang at eBay back in Sydney in 2007 😉 So what does it look like here in Oslo, Norway?
First, do Norwegians break for lunch?
On my first week at work, my two colleagues were not breaking for lunch at all!!! Imagine how I felt, me, my stomach and my love for food and absolute need to go out for lunch…
Then I discovered all these great restaurant near my office but… they all open from 3 or 4pm… for dinner! Yes, Norwegians eat dinner early. I was quite embarrassed to know that my 4 year old son got served dinner during a play date with his Noggy friend between 4 and 6pm the other day, and that he only ate dessert (waffles) 🙁 (<— not a sign of good parenting)
The funny thing is that even in the Norwegian language, the word MIDDAG means “dinner” although it sounds more like “the middle of the day”. Plus ETTER MIDDAG, literally “after middag” means: in the afternoon!!! Go figure!
The easy one though is that lunch in Norwegian is LUNSJ (SJ is pronounced SH) 🙂 I’m sure you’ve already seen it before…
Is this typical of the Nordics? Rumour has is that in Sweden and Finland, people break for lunch and schools offer hot meals. In Norway this is not the case and, as written in a previous post, even at the Lycée Français d’Oslo, children have to bring your own lunch box 🙁
Ok now let’s practice that bit of vocabulary you just learnt:
So … what do Norwegian eat for LUNSJ?
At the end of that first week at work I was saved by an email from the Oslo International Hub, where our office is hosted, inviting us to Monday social lunches where everyone working at the hub can gather, bring their lunch and either listen to a company presentation or just people getting to know each other. So here is a snapshot of what some people brought:
Yeah… this is supposed to be lunch…you agree it looks like breakfast or a snack?
Now below is your local version of cheese on toast. The one on the left is “brunost”, cheese which was cooked with a bit of sugar so it caramelised and got that brown colour. On your right is your typical Jarlsberg cheese. For all that time I was buying it in Australia I thought it was Swedish! No, Jarlsberg is a Norwegian and I head it was the country’s third largest export!!! That’s one other Norwegian brand known overseas!
There is also a lot of mackerel in tomato sauce or Flykrasj, looking like what’s inside a plane crash (featured picture of this post) , tuna and spreads to put on top of your toast. They call is “pålegg” = stuff that you put on a slice of bread to make a meal. I’ll soon post a video where I try for the first time, live, what’s in a tube of “Kaviar”…
Back to that second week, my colleagues were happy to join me for lunch. What did they bring? Cereals, muesli and smoothies!!!
What do I eat for lunch?
For all the reasons above combined with some budget constraints I went back to bringing my own lunch and seldom getting take away. I only dined out twice in my first month working here.
BYO from home:
Taco beef left over from the previous dinner + nachos + grated cheese + freshly diced tomatoes
Traditional pølsa (= wiener sausage) and lompe (potato pancake) similar to the French “Galette Saucisse”. It explains why they have it at Ikea in France! I also added some grated cheese and sliced mushroom. The lompe pancake is bought as is for like 2 euros a pack of 10. Super easy to reheat. Warm it up with salted butter in a pan and you have a winning French goûter!
Take away near Homansbyen/ Uranienborg:
The medium sauce wasn’t mild enough and maybe over powering. It was quite greasy and the meat came out of a random drawer instead of being cut from a good looking gyros! This is the 75 Kr (8 euros) Pitabrød
Very yummy with juicy chargrilled beef patty. 1 min away from my office. well served 4.9 rating on Facebook and on Google review.
89 kr for the basic burger.
Dine out near Homansbyen/ Uranienborg:
It’s a local institution. I had the most amazing fish soup I ever had: creamy but not too cream like the Boston Clam Chowder, but with added safran and seafood taste that reminds you a little bit of the French Bouillabaisse. The decor of this old restaurant felt very European, cosy and all wooden.
Olivia is am Italian restaurant chain with three locations around where I live. The one near the office features aa massive outdoor terrasse with sheep skin a max powered heaters in winter. I had the truffle pizza with truffle salami, truffle mushroom, truffle oil! Triple Truffle 😉
What’s your experience of Norwegian lunches?