Lunch culture in Norway revolves around the matpakke.
A matpakke (translated – food pack) is lunch from home – typically slices of bread with some sort of pålegg (sandwich fixin’s) on top. These include cheese (white or brown), salami, sliced cukes or pepper, pate, or maybe some shrimp and mayonnaise if you are feeling fancy. Norwegian eat open-faced sandwiches (smørbrod) and each slice of bread has only one or maybe two toppings. The slices of pålegg-topped bread are separated by sandwich special sandwich separating paper (pre-cut pieces of waxed paper).
(And, if that wasn’t enough bread and pålegg for you, breakfast often consists of the same.)
This is what 95% of the Norwegians in my office eat day in and day out. I’m fine with sandwiches – I survived grad school off of PB and J (but 2 slices of bread please!), but enjoy my left-over lunches too. And most people from the rest of Europe are used to warm lunches as well.
Until recently, our office was mostly Norwegians, all eating their smørbrod matpakke for lunch. But in the past few months we’ve had a bunch more foreign PhD students and visiting researchers join us. Which means… a line to use the microwave! It also means a lot more english spoken in the lunchroom.
So as you know, today is Thanksgiving. I’m a little jealous of everyone back home with the day off (but don’t feel too bad for me, I am jetting off to London for the weekend…). I made a small thanksgiving meal last weekend and have been enjoying the leftovers all week.
With that, I introduce you to the Thanksgiving-style matpakke (with a shot of cranberry sauce on the side). It is sure to be a hit!