A fun story from The Guardian about one woman’s return to her native Norway, where she indulged in herring, a childhood favorite:
Herring are hard to come by in contemporary Oslo. At every meal during our gourmet weekend return to my birthplace I’d enquire hopefully “Any chance of a herring”? but the reply was always no. Back when I was a child they were 10 a penny, you could barely walk 10 yards through the city without being offered a sild of one sort or another. Pickled sweet or sour, grilled with butter, they even used them as a garnish but nowadays the love affair seems to have ended.
These days you can walk the length and breadth of the city, eat in modern new restaurants or old-style cafés and in every one people will look at you when you mention the H-word as though you’ve had the audacity to order crack cocaine. The level of unease when herring came up reminded me of a trip I once made to Iowa, landing between hundreds of miles of cornfields but when I asked about the possibility of ordering a cob or two at a local restaurant the staff were aghast. “Corn?” they responded, a look of bemusement on their faces as though nowhere on earth were less likely a place for it. The scorning of the humble herring was an easy absence to identify, while more fundamental changes to the city I left when my family emigrated to Ireland in 1969 were harder to identify.
Scientists will argue it’s nonsense but as soon as I set foot in Scandinavia, and Norway more precisely, I am overcome by an inexplicable wash of familiarity. Not in a proprietorial, “the blood of this land flows through my veins” sort of way, nor by any compulsion to slip into a Puffa jacket to embrace my latent Scandi fashion sense but more a contented relaxing of the shoulders, a feeling that I’m somewhere I belong.
I ate out tonight with fellow members of the ASJA board, after our semi-annual all-day meeting, in midtown Manhattan. Still on my loathed diet, I watched everyone tackling huge slabs of cheesecake, each the size of North Dakota. I ate…strawberries.
My comfort foods are not sensible things like celery or rice cakes — but creamy rice pudding with cinnamon, a great homemade spaghetti sauce (also with a dash of cinnamon) and fresh, chewy bread, like a sourdough. And, sue me, a ripe wedge of Brie so gooey you really just have to lick your fingers.
What about you?