A Foodie’s Guide to Nordic Cuisine

18 Oct
The most widespread Finnish berry

Arguably, one of the best parts of travelling is the opportunity to savour the tastes and flavours of the country in which you are touring. Travel within the Nordic countries is no exception, with the cuisines of this region being unique and deliciously appealing.

For many years the Mediterranean diet has been hailed as the healthy ideal; current trends in dietetics suggest the Nordic dietary traditions may well be another cornerstone of healthy eating.

Those Nordic foods which are believed to be most beneficial to health include rye bread, fish, oatmeal, cabbage, root vegetables, and fruits like pear and apple.

As well as being one of the world’s healthiest ways of eating, the Nordic diet is also among the most delicious globally. Fresh roasted coffee, freshly baked rye bread, rosehip soup, sour milk, crisp breads of countless variety, pickled herring, gravalax, mackerel, black pudding, cloudberry jam and numerous local sweets … some of these might not sound entirely appealing to the non-Nordic visitor, but a taste will have most hooked.

Nordic food is simple, fresh, and, generally, cooked from scratch. There is no fast-food culture here as seen in other parts of the world. Nordic food is based on ingredients sourced easily in the cold climate; dishes are flavoured by their main ingredients which are pure and high in quality. Commonly used spices are dill, juniper berries, thyme, chives, cardamom, fennel and parsley. High intake of fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel and trout is the cornerstone of this diet; root vegetables are plentiful and breads are dark and rich in oats and whole grains. Cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and rapeseed oil are common in most meals.
Northern Europe’s native berries also feature heavily: lingonberries, cloudberries and blueberries in particular. Cooking is dictated by local seasonal produce.

There are local differences: Finnish cuisine has as its focus fish and meat (pork, grouse, duck, hare, sausage, moose and reindeer), fermented milk, turnips and potatoes, Arctic wildberries, wild mushrooms, and pulla (sweet bread). Swedish cuisine staples include meatballs in a brown cream sauce, stone fruits, sauerkraut, dumplings, and yellow pea soup. Norwegian dining focuses more strongly on game and fish, mutton, whale meat, Danish pastries, and beer is popular here.

New Nordic Cuisine is the name given to the resurgence in the popularity of Nordic food as a world class, healthy dining choice.

So, do you fancy meatballs with thyme, cabbage, and lingonberry compote? Musk ox with wild berries? Or perhaps blueberry tart for dessert?

There is a good reason many Nordic people have low levels of obesity and high life expectancy levels: their diet. Embrace this aspect of the region when you travel to Lapland or the Baltic – it may just be one of the highlights of your trip.