First of all, if you’re planning to tour the whole of Scandinavia, and wanting to try all the delicacies on offer, you can save quite a bit of money by trying it all in Finland. However, there’s at least one thing you can’t really buy there which is….
Whale (bottom right)
Norway is one of the few countries where you can try whale meat, despite the fact that Norwegians don’t eat it. Each year tones of whale meat is going to waste. That isn’t to say that people should eat it, but that, at the very least, supply should be cut to the level of demand. Sadly, they are going to continue no matter what since it’s a national tradition.
If it isn’t against your personal code of ethics you might as well try it. I can’t particularly comment since in my country you can buy live carp for Christmas from supermarkets. And no, whale does not taste like fish. It’s definitely a very controversial topic when it comes to what to eat in Scandinavia, each to their own.
Elk, bear and reindeer
You can eat elk and reindeer in restaurants, or buy cans and sausages. This type of Scandinavian food can be found in market places like the Old Market Hall in Helsinki, or Fish Market in Bergen. If you’re aiming for restaurants then it’s much easier (and fresher) to eat elk and reindeer in the far north after visiting Santa – especially if you have a keen sense for irony. We recommend Roka in Rovaniemi which serves amazing sandwiches with reindeer and halloumi – a modern take of traditional Scandinavian food.
In terms of bear you can buy cans right next to reindeer meat, but it still was a surprise for us. You have to be brave and rich (20 euros for a can). We are neither of those.
We only got it cause we were bored of our fake wasa paper. You can find it absolutely everywhere in the whole of Scandinavia, from corner shops to cafes and even some restaurants. It tastes less than paper, but you will still need some jam to cope with it. And talking about jam…
When it comes to what to eat in Scandinavia it doesn’t get much tastier than these. Fresh cloudberries are only available in summer, for a period of 2-4 weeks. Frozen ones are available in big shops, however. The jam is also very popular, but don’t be as stupid as we were. In essence, don’t buy it in a market hall for 100 NOK if you can buy it for 70 NOK in every big shop.
There’s Freia chocolate everywhere you look, but it’s not much different from chocolate anywhere else. The real challenge is to try salmiakki which is some sort of Finnish national obsession. It is supposed to taste of salty liquorice, but I would say it’s more like someone decided to pick up reindeer s*** and wrap it up nicely. We decided to try the ice cream variety, cause we thought every ice cream is a good ice cream. Well, we were wrong. Later on I could smell it in every shop, which ended up with me trying not to vomit on the shop floor. It’s worth trying to get the full experience of Scandinavian food, but my god we did not like it!
Karelian pastry (Adam’s new obsession – he recommends having them warm), pies and cinammon rolls are everywhere. If you’re planning to get your daily supplies for lunch from Lidl then we also recommend trying some of the small cheesecakes with your pies and rolls!
Fish and seafood
No mention of what to eat in Scandinavia would be complete without the ultimate ingredient in Scandinavian food. In places like the fish market in Bergen you can buy whatever you want, sometimes even alive. Crabs, crayfish, prawns… and quite a few things we don’t even know the names of – the sort of things that look like they might eat you before you eat them. But, this is a food experience from another world – things that you literally will not be able to get at home.
If you want something more familiar, from the Baltic sea for example, then we recommend a short trip to Swedish pubs for some fried or fermented herring. Do note that even if you’re planning to cook for yourself during your Scandinavian holidays, you can find a lot of fresh seafood to choose from. There’s nothing more relaxing after a 10 hour drive than learning how to cook crab stew!
Would you try some of the more adventurous food in Scandinavia? If you have, what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below!