Seeing the road ahead, and knowing that it’s mine to walk. These are the things that are rightfully mine, the trees and the flowers, the air and the endless horizon. To be so at absolute peace about what’s going to happen next, that it almost doesn’t matter. That is what it means to be home.
It’s been 10 weeks since we left Australia. It feels like forever ago. There are already so many things I miss, like:
- walking home from the train after a busy day at work, feeling the warm summer sun on my skin, swinging by my local shop to pick up a bottle of refreshingly cold Sav Blanc, coming home and settling in for the night, cooking dinner whilst sipping wine, having friends over, and eventually watching the sunset make the sky go red and purple in the horizon
- waking up to an abundance of birds most mornings, chirping their familiar sounds from 6 am, while rays of sunshine are trying to get a glimpse of me through the curtains
- walking to my favourite cafe on a Saturday morning, soaking up the neighbourhood’s weekend sounds and shenanigans, arriving at my cafe to be greeted by the familiar, smiling waitresses asking me if I’ll be needing a menu today or if I just want to order straight away…Getting my coffee and sipping it slowly while I people-watch and smile to my beloved
- sitting on the train early in the morning, listening to music, and studying people when they can’t see that I’m watching, wondering who they are and where they work, and all the other stuff I’ll never know about them
- the feeling of being anonymous in a big city where nobody knows who I am, or where I came from, seeing a face in the crowd and wondering if I’ll ever see that face again
Having said that, there are so many great things about Norway. I particularly love:
- spending dark, cold winter nights inside, burning candles and baking something sweet to eat, like cinnamon scrolls, and drinking numerous cups of tea
- the magical blue light early in the morning and then again in the afternoon just before it gets dark, reminding me of where I am, far up north, in the arctic circle
- going for a long walk outside, all rugged up in a jacket, beanie, gloves and scarf, and the comforting feeling when I come back into the warm, dim lounge room, all rosy cheeked and strangely satisfied
- weekend breakfasts around the table at home, with fresh bread and boiled eggs, or warm waffles, and hot coffee of course
- the anticipation of spring, and the days growing longer each day, noticing it, and feeling in union with the seasons, ever changing, just like my inner life
- feeling strangely, but comfortably connected to everything that’s going on around me, a feeling I seem to have forgotten all about, somewhere along the way….
It recently dawned on me, whilst on holiday in Norway, how much Norwegians love their food! The specialities are endless: fresh bread with liver pâté, pasta salads with shrimps, fish! fish! and fish! salmon, cod, meatballs and “komler” (potato balls with salty meat and sausage), cured meats, brown cheese, black coffee, waffles and the list goes on. As we sat in a small town near the coast, about 35 km south of Bergen, enjoying ourselves a serving of traditional fish soup, Matt started thinking about how the small cafe serving traditional Norwegian foods & snacks could re-invent itself into something much more interesting and profitable. ‘This fish soup’, he said, ‘is pretty average.’ ‘How about some more interesting dishes, like a tasty pasta dish, a delicious curry or at least something a bit more interesting? This business could do really well.’ Like any other Melburnian, he believes interesting is better than traditional. That garlic and onion should form part of everything you cook. That wine is better than water (well hey, I’d have to agree on that one!!)
Thing is, after careful consideration, I realised Norwegians love their food just like the Italians love their pasta. Like the Chinese love their ducks. The Norwegian cuisine might look dull at a first glance, and let’s face it, you are lucky if you even get some salt & pepper in your fish soup! However it is what it is, and every time I’m there I seem to scoff down those fish cakes like there is no tomorrow. I eat bread for breakfast AND lunch, sometimes even dinner. I emerge myself in ‘lefser’ & waffles & brown cheese (the latter has yet to be approved by the French as cheese, but I’m not one of those who judge a cheese by its smell). I sip black, filtered coffee like it’s something I do every day anyway, and I like it (however I also think it could be about time to start importing some more espresso machines over there!). Then there’s ‘rekesalat’, that shrimp coleslaw you slap onto fresh bread. Not for beginners necessarily, but all in good time. Just getamungstit.
So in reality, the Norwegian cuisine isn’t weird or dull. It’s just….Norwegian. And while it ain’t breakfast 638 ways, I still have a big place in my heart for it.