Emma Ben Ayoun and Gavin Tomson
I know it’s a little scary to bite into a jet-black, marble-sized ball of indeterminate texture, but trust me. Salted licorice is probably the weirdest and greatest food you’ll ever take a few harsh bites of before the vaguely medicinal and not entirely un-blood-like aftertaste coats your throat and makes it impossible to taste, smell or conceive of anything else for the duration of a Norwegian winter sunset, which is essentially forever.
Why are you looking at me like that? Just try it. I know it makes no sense! Strong black licorice coated in sugar and sea salt! But incongruity’s the spice of life! It’s like skiing up! It’s like a sandwich made of two slices of ham around a piece of bread! It’s like your arm growing out of your back — no, better still, out of your best friend’s back! Try and wrap your mind around that one for a second, like bacon wrapped around pølser (see below). It’s like a day made up entirely of 5 o’clock. It’s like eating a scarf and tying mashed potatoes around your neck for warmth. This is Norway. This is beauty. This is being alive. Eat salted licorice, pray, love. You know.
Although I am both new to food reviews and equipped with less than mediocre taste buds, I can say with confidence that for those of us who eat meat, guiltily or otherwise, Norwegian hot dogs — pølser — are categorically pretty OK, which makes them the best hot dogs in the world.
Pølser come in different types; one is sensually enwrapped in bacon. They are made mostly of finely ground pork and bits of mustard seed, allspice, and nutmeg. They taste somewhere between a grilled New York hot dog and a Knackwurst and you can eat them with white buns or lompe, a soft potato-based flatbread, textured somewhat like a crêpe.
Condiments, like most things Norwegian, are minimal: mustard, ketchup, dried onions, bits of bacon, or the mysterious pølser sauce. I’m unsure of why pølser are better than all other hot dogs in the world but likely it has something to do with food standards in Norway which, like all other standards in Norway, are high, very high. Hei.
Norwegian chocolate bars are good chocolate bars. The End. What makes them worth writing about is their size. Chocolate bars in Norway are large as The Hulk’s forearms, or French license plates. Usually they contain 200 grams, four times more than a Mars Bar. This is not because Norwegians eat dangerous amounts of sugar — on the contrary, Norwegians are nearly uniformly slim — but because Norwegians like to share. American-sized chocolate bars do exist in Norway and one is called Ego — which is to say, “If you buy this for yourself, you are selfish, and suck.”
KvikkLunsi is a particularly tasty and popular bar in Norway. The name means quick lunch and Norwegians like to Edvard Munch on it while cross-country skiing, hiking, deferring seasonal depression, introspecting (Knut Hamsun said “truth telling is unselfish inwardness”), and awarding the Nobel Peace Prize.
Emma Ben Ayoun is a writer from New York City currently studying film in Oxford, England. She has worked as an editor, translator, and copyeditor for Scrivener Creative Review, Vallum Magazine, and Steps Magazine. She loves the word "scallop”.
Gavin Tomson’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Undertow Magazine, Sleet Magazine, trans lit mag, The Milo Review, and other journals. He has also worked as an editor for Scrivener Creative Review and Steps Magazine and he loves to tuck his pants into his socks.