Eating Well: Norway - #118

BURT WOLF: Norway, one of the most picturesque and unspoiled parts of Europe. With thousands of miles of magical coastline, it supplies the world with some of our greatest fish. We'll check out a recipe that was cooked on the ship that went to the North Pole. We'll see how flatbread is made the traditional way, meet actress Celeste Holm, and walk off a few calories with Grete Waitz. Join me, Burt Wolf, eating well in Norway. (MUSIC) Beautiful Norway is the northernmost country in Scandinavia. This Nordic paradise is about the size of the state of New Mexico and is literally laced by the sea. Blessed with magnificent mountain ranges with spectacular waterfalls and over twelve thousand miles of coastline, much of this gentle and picturesque country remains untouched by time. Norwegians love the natural beauty of their country and they spend as much time outside as possible. They boat over their waters, they climb up their mountains the summer, and ski down them in the winter. They bike through their farm villages and involve themselves in every outdoor sport in the Olympics. They love exercise and fitness. The first people to come to Norway came here about six thousand years ago, and they came because the fishing was so good. With over two hundred different varieties of fish in the waters around Norway, it's only fitting that fish still be a basic part of the Norwegian diet. Their favorite vegetable is the potato; a meal without a potato is no meal at all. They also like vegetables that stay well through the winter and they eat a lot of cabbage. True for their fruits too; they eat a lot of apples because they preserve well. Their national bread is very flat and crisp. Short growing season here in Norway, and so they have to harvest their grain while it's still green or preserve it by baking it right away. The result is a flat, crisp bread -- very high in fiber, very low in fat. Norwegians also love breakfast; they have huge breakfasts and that's a good idea. There's a study that clearly indicates that children who have a well-balanced breakfast do much better on national intelligence tests than kids who don't. The Norwegians are in touch with the rhythms of life. They want to preserve themselves and their environment. And there's a lot to preserve in Norway too. The ancient city of Bergen has been around for over a thousand years. It's ideally situated at the end of a giant fjord. A fjord is a river-like body of water that comes inland from the sea, sometimes for hundreds of miles. I traveled by boat through the fjord that leads from Bergen to the sea. It cuts through some of the most dramatic and beautiful landscape in Europe, and comes to an end at the ocean community of Feja. It's a small, bustling fishing village that clings to an outcropping of rocks, but Feja's not just any little fishing village. Each day these hardy individuals leave their small island community and boat out to giant floating platforms that are anchored off the coast. The platforms contain nets, inside of which the salmon are raised. The fish start out in hatcheries on the shore, and are shifted into the netted areas as they grow older. They're fed a specially-designed diet, one prepared by scientists with the objective of producing the ideal fish. This is really a traditional farm operation, only it's floating in the sea. When these guys go off to the north forty, it's not acres, it's fathoms. The entire system is made possible by the warm-water current that comes up to Norway from the Gulf of Mexico; that's quite a trip. For over twenty years the people of Norway have been raising salmon in farms that are set out in the sea, and it appears that somebody has been actually counting these salmon, because recently they announced the harvesting of their one hundred millionth salmon. The whole town had a party, the school band came out to play, the press arrived to film the event. Leading chefs from all over the world polished up their salmon recipes and contributed them to the celebration. There were soups and appetizers and main dishes; fortunately, no desserts. It was truly an international event. The harvesting of Norway's one hundredth million salmon was attended by government officials from Norway and the United States. It's only fitting that a U.S. representative be at the festivities. Last year Americans consumed over twenty thousand tons of Norwegian salmon, a taste preference which was undoubtedly enhanced by the fact that salmon contains large amounts of omega-3 oil, which is believed to help reduce the risk of heart disease. The lucky salmon was packed in ice and flown to New York City. And now the counting begins again. Let me see there, one hundred million and one, one hundred million and two, one hundred million and three... And while the fishermen count, the cooks cook. Back at the other end of the fjord in Bergen, the Hotel Norge has a team of cooks with an almost endless collection of salmon recipes. One with a great nutritional balance is salmon baked in cabbage leaves. Parchment paper is given a light coating of margarine, a few cooked cabbage leaves go on, some chopped tomatoes, a little chopped onion that's been sauteed in oil, two thin slices of salmon, some chopped chive, a little parsley, fresh pepper, two slices of lemon, and a quarter-cup of clam juice to keep everything moist. The parchment is folded over, and sealed to make a bag. A couple of nice things about this recipe. First of all, you can prepare it to this stage three or four hours before you're gonna cook it and just hold it in the refrigerator. When you're ready to cook, you pop it into a four hundred and fifty degree oven for about six or seven minutes and it's ready to serve. Secondly, because everything is tightly wrapped in the paper, the nutrients in the salmon are held in. Nothing is burned off or boiled away. Just before you're ready to serve, pop the bag into a four hundred and fifty degree oven for five minutes or into your microwave. Leave it to the cooks at Bergen to spawn a great salmon recipe. (MUSIC) Celeste Holm is the grande dame of stage, screen and television. As an Academy Award-winning actress with such epic films as "All About Eve" and "Gentlemen's Agreement" to her credit, Celeste Holm's performances continue to electrify audiences.

CELESTE HOLM: Oh, is Polly coming home today, well you know that completely slipped my mind...

WOLF: She claims the secret of her artistic success was merely a function of heredity.

HOLM: Well, I mean my mother was a painter, my aunt was on the stage, my grandmother had done everything, had edited a newspaper and taught English and drama and choral singing, and yeah. And my father was Norwegian, so what I mean by that is, coming from a country which is nine months winter and three months cold he was interested in anything. 

WOLF: When you think about Norwegians, specific traits that come to mind.

HOLM: They're very well-organized, they work very hard. I've been told by Norwegians that they're really lazy, and the reason they work so hard is to prove to themselves that they're not lazy. (LAUGHS) But whatever the reason, they still do. I have an enormous number of cousins in Norway, and I enjoy going back as much as I can to see them again, whenever I can. But they keep coming over here too, and of course they speak English better than we do, which is why I apologize for not speaking Norwegian.

WOLF: In 1979 you received a special award in Norway, tell me about it.

HOLM: Well, I'm not supposed to call it a knighthood because they don't have knighthoods in Norway, but I don't know what to call it because we don't have anything like that either. It is a beautiful medal, and it is a recognition of contributions made to appreciation of Norway.

WOLF: Tell me about the Norwegian cooking in your family.

HOLM: Fish and boiled potatoes. Baked cod. The whole fish in the oven, like that. And the skin protects this, the flesh from being dried out at all, just wonderful, we just serve it with melted butter and lemon. They have a fish called place which I loved there, and, well, you know the potatoes are so wonderful that my husband brought some home in his pocket. And we planted them on our farm and they're wonderful. I swear. I don't why they taste different but they do.

WOLF: Are there any Norwegian dishes that you cook?

HOLM: Everything. Lemon a very...beloved,'s a dish for hot weather or cold weather. Oh, that's wonderful, I adore it.

WOLF: Some other dishes that you love that you cook yourself.

HOLM: Well, of course as I say I have a great admiration and appreciation of fish, which I do lots of ways. The thing I like the best about Norwegian food is the, because the flavors are so fresh they don't trim them up as much as other foods, other nationalities. In a way that's like the Norwegians themselves. There's great clarity and simplicity and directness. 

WOLF: Is there something that you cook for your kids that they really love?

HOLM: Anything I'll cook. They're really eclectic which is fine. They like everything. ‘Course I must say I'm a very good cook. You know, my son says “you're the best nothing cook I've ever known,” I said what do you mean, he said, “when there's nothing in the house, you come up with miracles.”

WOLF: And the Norwegian miracle that Celeste helped whip up is a stuffed baked apple. A tablespoon of vegetable oil, margarine or butter is used to coat the bottom of the saute pan. And in goes a half cup of chopped walnuts, a half cup of chopped dates, a half cup of chopped figs, a quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract, a quarter cup of brown sugar and a quarter cup of apple juice. All that gets cooked together for about two minutes. Next, slices of apple are set on a plate in a circular pattern. These slices have been dried in a two hundred fifty degree oven for thirty minutes. The nut and fruit mixture is stuffed into baked apples that have been hollowed out. The stuffed apples go on to the apple rings and the top goes on top. 


WOLF: Now let's sail down along the coast. Oslo, Norway's capital city, is one of the most attractive and hospitable cities in Europe. The castle and fortress offer a historical glimpse of the nation. There's a Norwegian folk museum with ancient buildings that have been preserved from different periods, including stave churches that were built completely without nails. Oslo is a charming, renovated waterfront area where old docks were turned into shops, theaters, apartments, offices and restaurants. It's a favorite place for exercise, walkers and runners, including the world famous Grete Waitz. Grete Waitz is one of the world's most proficient runners. For many years she dominated the filed of the marathon. Recently I met with Grete in her home town of Oslow, Norway and tried to keep up with her while she told me about her diet for good health.

GRETE WAITZ: I told you how my diet consists of several types of food. But basically it's a lot of bread, potatoes, of course fish coming from Norway, vegetables. And I tried to keep the food as plain as possible, trying to stay away from fried and deep fried foods, and a lot of fatty food.

WOLF: What about cholesterol? Is it important? 

GRETE WAITZ: Oh no not at all. And I think many people are uh, too conscious about it, and I think it's a very important to be conscious about what you eat, but not be fanatic.

WOLF: How about desserts? How do you feel about your sweet tooth?

GRETE WAITZ: Of course I eat sweets, I'm just a normal person. But in moderation. If I want an ice cream, I eat it, without feeling guilty.

WOLF: Are you flexible about your diet or is constant vigilance the key?

GRETE WAITZ: Yes, I'm very flexible. Because I'm traveling a lot and sometimes I just have to eat what is on the table. So I know that if I eat something that is not healthy once in a while, it will not hurt me. I think a daily diet is the most important thing.

WOLF: Obviously Grete waits for no one. She is a runner and to a great extent, Grete eats to run. I on the other hand, am an eater. I run to eat. Actually I don't run anymore, I walk at my doctor's advice. The legs aren't what they used to be, honey. Having just walked off about three hundred and fifty calories, I'm going to walk over to Oslo's Grand Hotel Cafe and put back about a hundred. Count Gustavio Helm Jarlsberg of Norway. He lived from 1641 to 1717 and he lived on a fabulous farm in Oslo. Descendents of his family still live there and it's the largest farm in Norway. It counts to be Count, especially if your name is on a world-famous cheese. Jarlsberg is literally the national cheese of Norway, and they use it in hundreds of recipes. One of my favorites is a Jarlsberg twist bread. So here's Chef Namyo at Oslow's Grand Hotel doing the Jarlsberg twist. (CUT) The yeast bread dough is rolled out to a rectangle that's about twelve by fifteen. A cup of shredded Jarlsberg cheese goes on and one third of a cup of chopped fresh parsley. Beginning at the short end of the rectangle, roll the dough up into a tight tube, smoothing it out as you're going along. And slice the roll in half lengthwise, stopping just short of one end. Twist each slice around the other to make a braided loaf. Place the bread on a cookie sheet to raise for thirty minutes, and then bake in a four hundred degree oven for twenty minutes. When it comes out, you've done the twist -- like I did last summer. (CUT) And now let's travel back in time to see why Norwegian food tastes the way it does. Mauihagen is an amazing open-air museum in the Norwegian city of Lillehammer. More than a hundred historic buildings have been nestled together on a beautiful hillside. These are the original buildings, with authentic period furnishings on the inside. Together they produce a natural setting for the recreation of an 18th century community. You can really see how Norwegian farmers lived some two hundred years ago. Norway has a very short growing season and a very long winter. And that's had an amazing impact on the history of food in this country. Whatever was harvested at the end of this short summer had to be preserved for the long winter. When you look at the favorite foods of the people of Norway, you'll see their ancient reliance on foods that would last. Gravlox is salmon that's been preserved by salting. Smoked salmon has been preserved by the action of the smoke. Herring has been preserved by a brine solution or wine or vinegar. Cheese is actually the way of preserving the nutrients of fresh milk. Even their most traditional breads are made without yeast. They're dry and crisp and are able to last months and months without losing taste or nutrition. While I was at Mauihagen, I was taught the old way to prepare flatbread. I've adapted the recipe a bit for home use, but basically it consists of mixing together, a pound and a quarter of white flour, ten ounces of rye flour, a pinch of salt, a half teaspoon of baking powder and two cups of warm water. Blend that together until you have the consistency of a bread dough. Roll out the dough until it's a thickness of a quarter inch, and then cut it into the shape of a disk. Continue rolling out the dough until it's as thin as you can get it. The rules allow for a few holes here and there in the disk and that's good, because otherwise, I would be trying to roll out a whole free disk for the next few months. The dough then goes on to a non-stick skillet and cooks for two to three minutes on each side. That will give you about twenty disks of bread. And the perfect Norwegian speciality to enjoy on your flat bread, the sardine, made from a fish called the bristling. For years, I've seen the King Oscar brand of sardines and always wondered why a King was in the fish business. Oscar was the King of Norway during the early 1900's. He was an okay king and the people accepted him. But he wasn't a famous king like B.B. King or Elvis, and one day he put his picture on a can of sardines, and suddenly everyone knew who King Oscar was. And for good reasons too; sardines are one of the greatest natural sources of bone-building calcium. They provide potassium and magnesium, iron, zinc and iodine. They contain vitamin B, vitamin D and looks of protein. They're also packed with Omega-3. Omega-3 is a kind of oil that's found in fish, and it appears to reduce the risk of heart disease. It could make Old King Oscar the king of hearts. (AIRPLANE NOISE) I always think of the Scandinavian Airline System as a company devoted to flying people around the world. But they also deeply involved in the hotel and restaurant business. This is the SAS hotel in Oslow Norway. And this is Chef Lars Eric Underthin, who is considered one of Norway's most talented young chefs. Today he is flying through his recipe for Norwegian hot apple dessert. Fasten your seatbelts, place your tray tables in their stored position and watch this. A half cup of water, a half cup of sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a half cup of raisins and four tablespoons of butter or margarine are cooked together for about seven minutes. The large golden delicious apples are peeled, cored and sliced. After you peel the apples, you want to keep them from turning brown, and the easiest way to do that is to sprinkle a little lemon juice over them and toss the apples with the juice. The apple slices go into the sauce and cook for six minutes more. Lars likes to put a vanilla sauce on the serving plate, fan out the cooked apples on top. Boy, I'd clear that for landing on my plate any time. Something to enjoy after you've spend a few hours practicing the very Norwegian sport of skiing. (MUSIC) The Holman Collins Ski Museum in Oslo Norway originally opened in 1823. And it's completely devoted to the history of skiing. The building is designed to tour you through the trails and tales of this ancient form of travel. Its earliest element is a four thousand year old rock carving, which shows an ancient skier walking cross country. The photographic history of skiing gives you a good look to what people wore to their ski outings during the 1800's. This the new Telemark look in skiing. I am however partial to this ancient ski pole, because it has a cup at the end. People used to get it to get water from fresh streams. I however, would use it for hot chocolate. And speaking of hot chocolate let me show you a technique for making this drink that's special. Take a saucepan and put in one rounded teaspoon of cocoa. Add a teaspoon or so of sugar, depending on how sweet you like your hot chocolate. And put in two tablespoons of skim milk and over a low heat, work the mixture until you have a smooth paste. Slowly mix in one cup of the skim milk, finally using a whisk to bring up a foam on top. Simple and easy technique but it really makes a difference, worth the small extra effort. Just outside the city of Oslo, Norway is a museum that contains the ship that was used to explorations to both the North and South poles. The name of the vessel is Fram, which means “forward.” It was used by three great Norwegian explorers who were interested in finding out about the poles of our planet. Exploring is always very expensive and somebody usually sponsors it. Remember, Columbus had Queen Isabella. And Lewis and Clark was funded by a company that made fur hats. And the Norwegians were sponsored by the company that brews Ringnes beer. Of course there were a couple of cases of Ringnes on board during the voyages, and cooks put it to good use during the voyages. My favorite is Beef a la Ringnes. Two pounds of chopped beef are mixed together with one chopped onions, two egg whites are added in, a quarter cup of chopped pickled beets, a quarter cup of chopped pickles, a few capers and a half of cup of Ringnes beer. That's all blended together and shaped into patties. The patties are pan fried. And the rest of the beer is poured into the pan, cooked down, thickened up and poured over the burgers. Of course, you can put them on buns, but traditionally they are served as a main dish, chopped steak. (CUT) The only one surprised when Norway's ambassador of beauty, five foot six inch green eyes Mona Grudt clenched the Miss Universe title was the beauty queen herself. (CUT)

MAN: Miss Universe herself is Miss Norway Mona Grudt. 

MONA GRUDT: After I won, I borrowed the phone from security guard and I dialed the number. My parents didn't know anything. So uh...I called home and said, hi mom, I won.

WOLF: Noway is a fabulously beautiful country. Would you describe it for the people who have never been there?

MONA GRUDT: I would say it's a lot of mountains, a lot of fjords, the water is very clean, we have the best fish in the world. I would say in the North of Norway we have the midnight sun where the sun is up all night. It's just beautiful, you can't imagine it until you see it.

WOLF: You appearance is very important to your career. Are there any foods that you eat that you feel improve your appearance?

MONA GRUDT: Basically, all my life, I've been eating whatever I want to eat. But now, I try to not eat too much junk food. And I try to eat, you know, keep the meals, like breakfast, lunch and dinner, and nothing else but, not too much snacks and things. I've been doing ballet and gymnastics since I was five. I don't take dance classes but I try to do some aerobics, like when I travel. I work out in the hotel rooms, all the time, and I try to do like, exercises that are, that I can do on a small hotel room. I put on MTV...(LAUGHTER)

WOLF: Tell me about your mother's cooking. 

MONA GRUDT: Well actually my father is cooking home at our place.

WOLF: That's interesting. 


WOLF: What did he cook?

MONA GRUDT: Well my favorite is cauliflower soup. And that he makes himself. And I also remember my grandmother's meatballs, brown sauce and sauerkraut. Potatoes, we always have potatoes.

WOLF: Tell me about the great salmon in Norway?

MONA GRUDT: Just delicious. I love it, especially with sour cream and when it's cold, butter and potatoes, salad, lettuce, it's good. 

WOLF: And if cooking had been part of the competition, Mona would have won the Miss Universe title all over again, with her family recipe for salmon soup. A quart of chicken stock is heated to a simmer. In goes a pound of boneless, skinless, Norwegian salmon cut into bite size pieces. Half a teaspoon of cornstarch, dissolved in a little water. Quarter cup of chopped chives and a cup of sliced carrots. Seven minutes of cooking at a low boil, and you're ready to serve. Miss Universe Salmon Soup. Low-fat, low calorie, high protein. Mona's exercise program has kept her in good shape and she does a fine job of control her diet. She has an excellent sense of the relationship of food to health. In my search for foods that can help me reduce my high blood pressure, I've become particularly impressed with the potato. They're high in potassium which has proved to be of great importance in helping to prevent high blood pressure. A single potato will supply me with twenty percent of my daily need for potassium. Potatoes are also sources of protein, vitamin C, vitamin B 6, phosphorus, magnesium and fiber. The question for today is how do you take this nutritionally valuable food and make it into a potatoes salad without destroying its nutritional balance by adding a series of high fat ingredients. Okay, like this. Combine three pounds of new potatoes, a tablespoon of caraway seeds and a clove of garlic. Cover that with water and simmer for twenty minutes. And drain the potatoes and slice them into quarters. Make the dressing in a blender by combining one tablespoon of lemon juice, a third of a cup of buttermilk that's been made from skim milk, a half cup of low-fat cottage cheese, and a half cup of low-calorie mayonase. Blend that with the potatoes and serve. So what have we seen here in Norway in terms of nutrition? Well, the primary source of protein is fish and that's really good. About ten percent of your daily calorie intake should come from low-fat protein. It's a good idea to get some sardines into your diet. Sardines with the bone in are a great source of calcium which we need to protect us from bone disease. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Choose low-fat versions of the foods that you like. The more research I see, the more clear it is that a well balanced diet, coupled with a good exercise program will go a long way to preserving and improving good health. (MUSIC) That's Eating Well in Norway; please join us next time as we travel around the world, looking for things that taste good and make it easier to eat well. I'm Burt Wolf.