Unusual Local Foods Eaten
Horse – in Italy (dried). It tastes like any other red meat that’s dried, like beef jerky.
Reindeer in Finland. While in Lapland we partook in Reindeer cooked three different ways. Sauteed and simmered with sliced Reindeer roast, lingonberries, pickled cucumber and buttery mashed potatoes. Then sliced Reindeer sirloin, and slow-cooked Reindeer neck with creamy juniper berry sauce, cranberry jelly, local root vegetables and game potatoes breaded with rye. Dining in a restaurant allows one to taste this meat cooked properly, and our preferred option was by far slow-cooked. While it might sound unusual, the meat was lovely and there was nothing I could think to relate it to, or how to describe the taste.
Elk in Norway at a truck stop. Not exactly the place you expect to try exotic meats, but there you have it and it was tasty enough, served with cranberry sauce, boiled whole potatoes and crunchy vegetables. Alan’s meal was another traditional treat, bacon with a creamy cabbage and potato mix. Wasn’t really my cuppa tea but it was tasty enough. We can’t remember the name, so if you know it, please send us a message below. Thanks.
Wild Moose in Sweden while staying with friends. The Swedish Government allows one moose and one calf to be shot per year per 1,000 hectares in order to regulate the numbers. For our friends who cooked and served us the Moose they have a group of ten shooters and they share the meat between the group. Otherwise, the moose become pests to the farmers. It tastes similar to beef.
Don’t freak out when I tell you about the most unusual food we tried in Norway. I am already feeling a little defensive when writing this but stay with me. The meat, again tried in a restaurant, was Whale! I know, I know, it sounds like I’m supporting an industry that is reviled around the world. However, keep reading for more education about this dish before judging.
The whale was served lightly fried (meaning almost raw) with mushroom stew (aka sauce), fried vegetables, red onions and potatoes. My first impression of whale meat was that it reminded me of liver. Then I felt the meat was rather dry, and then it had a gamey taste. By the end it was just like eating steak. No fishy flavour whatsoever, obviously. The restaurant cooked it extremely rare and it had sinew or veins running through the meat, but it wasn’t really chewy.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat it again and by comparison, Elk and Reindeer were much tastier. Overall I was happy to experience just once in my lifetime.
Now here’s the thing about eating whale in Norway. The Minke Whale, which is native to Norwegian waters, is not endangered, the catch is very strictly regulated and the is 100% sustainable. The industry is far smaller than historical levels, largely due to the relatively low demand but whaling seems more a cultural thing for the people than just a source of protein.
The Norwegian Government recently ran a promotion of whale meat as a fine dining experience. It was a complete failure. Younger, environmentally conscious people struggled with the whale meat concept and now all government funding has ceased. It will gradually die out over time.
A local ex-fisherman we spoke with said the economics of whaling are poor, people have stopped eating the meat and therefore less and less people are fishing them. He also told us about the problem that the large whale numbers were causing to the declining small fish stocks.