As I write this we are traveling home from a weeklong trip to Norway. We had a great time and there will probably be another blog or two on what we did and saw but for now I just have a few random thoughts to share with you.
- Trolls freak me out. – You cannot go into a Norwegian gift shop without seeing a figurine of a troll. I finally had to ask a sales clerk what the trolls were all about. It seems that Scandinavian folklore suggests that the trolls lived in the caves that you see in the woods and along the fjords. It’s a cute little story explaining why there are so many caves and I’m fine with that. But when I see the impish faced figurines, with their long frizzy hair, and hairy tails, well, they just make me a little squeamish. One story I read about them says they are “generally not fair to behold.” I couldn’t agree more.
- Rømmegrøt – In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s Norwegian immigrants moved to the Midwest in mass and thus there are plenty of traditional Norwegian foods that have been passed down from generation to generation. Delicacies such as Krumkake, Lefse, and Kringla are all delicious and greatly enjoyed around here during the Christmas season. But there was one dish I saw in Norway that I’d never heard of, Rømmegrøt (or Rommegrot, as we’d spell it in the United States). In English it would be called Sour Cream Porridge and I’m sure that it would make every cardiologist in America wince. I looked for the recipe online to see if I understood it correctly. Basically it’s 35% fat sour cream, flour, high fat milk (so basically more cream) and a little bit of salt. It is served warm and then you add (are you ready) BUTTER, cinnamon sugar, and sometimes raisins. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), I was unable to taste this due to my dairy intolerance but I can only assume it’s quite delicious because lots of people were ordering it.
- Clearly Marked Bathrooms – Because we were visiting with relatives we were able to be in quite a few private homes. Every single one had a plaque on the bathroom door with the word Toalett (or WC for Water Closet). Even a non-Norwegian-speaking person such as myself could figure out that this was where the bathroom is located. All I can say about this is, GENIUS! No need to wander aimlessly through a stranger’s home in an effort to locate the bathroom. Perhaps we should incorporate this into American culture.
- Passports – O.K., this one was pretty disappointing. Our travel to Norway took us into Europe at the Amsterdam airport thus the only stamp on our passport from this trip says “Amsterdam.” There is no indication that I have even been to Norway. I realize that this is a small matter and not really worthy wasting my time on but still, I was a little sad. Good thing I have some pictures or there would be no proof of my visit. I wonder if the passport authorities would be upset if I put a sticker of a Norwegian flag on some random page?
- Best time to Visit – Clearly the best time to visit Norway is the beginning of August. The weather, though fickle, is very pleasant but more importantly, this is the time of year that the strawberries and raspberries begin to ripen. I could have eaten them all day long. Most people eat them with cream but trust me, they are delicious straight from the garden.
- You Know You’re From Minnesota When – Like I said at the beginning of this post, there were many Norwegians who immigrated to the United States (and particularly the Midwest) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the somewhat humorous result of this immigration (and the fact that we live in the midst of the families of said immigrants) is that we were continually seeing people who reminded us of friends back home. In other words, if you live in Minnesota, I probably saw your long lost cousin at some point during our trip.
Like I said, more on our trip later. I didn’t get this posted last night when we got home because, quite frankly, I was just too tired. But, let me leave you with a few more random thoughts gleaned from the plane trip home.
- There comes a time in a man’s life where he should give up wearing long hair and bandana headbands. I’m not sure when that is but it’s definitely before 60. Just sayin’.
- I hope that the guy who invented flushable toilet seat covers is very rich. He deserves it.
- Getting off of a plane after an overseas flight is much like walking out of a trash can. God bless the crew that cleans that mess up!
And, as they say, “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”