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.

Travels & Traditions: Trondheim, Norway - #106

Norway is a modern, progressive and highly industrialized nation.  But many of the forces that drive today’s Norway go back to the ancient Vikings who lived here a thousand years ago.  The Vikings controlled much of Europe for centuries.  At one time Dublin, Paris and Kiev were Viking cities.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  And I believe that the same forces that shaped the Viking period, the long winters, the short summers, the love of technology, and the desire to explore, are the same forces that are shaping Norwegian culture today.

So I’ve come to the city of Trondheim, on the west coast of Norway, to see what’s going on.  The city sits just below the Arctic Circle and was founded in the year 997, at the height of the Viking period.

I’ll show you how the ancient Viking need to go exploring in search of food has led the Norwegians into outer space to grow strawberries!  It’s no accident that the NASA spacecraft that explored Mars was named Viking... We’ll visit the site of a miracle that turned a Viking warrior into the patron saint of Norway.  At the Trondheim Folkmuseum we’ll tour an 800-year-old Christian church that evolved from a Viking house of worship... and take a look at the technique for making flatbread.  We’ll also find out what’s good to eat here.  So join me, Burt Wolf, with TRAVELS AND TRADITIONS in Trondheim, Norway.

The earliest Vikings lived here in Norway peacefully for thousands of years.  But by the late 700s there were more Vikings than the land could support.  Only three percent of Norway can be used for farming.  The winters are long.  The summers are short.  The Vikings needed food and they decided to get it by raiding.  Their attacks were devastating.  Their intention was to gain a reputation for brutality.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  And the bad press was a good thing.  When a village heard that the Vikings were coming for a visit, they would pay them off to go away.  When a Viking warrior got ready for battle, he would put on a bearskin shirt and work himself up into a frenzy.  The bearskin shirt was known as a berserkir, and working himself up into a frenzy was known as going berserk.  From the late 700s until about 1050 the Vikings and their berserk behavior dominated much of European history.

They controlled large parts of England and Ireland.  They were all over Scandinavia, Russia, and the Mediterranean.  In the middle of the 800s they took Paris.  The part of France that is called Normandy gets its name because it belonged to the Vikings, the North men.

Historians officially mark the end of the Viking period as the year 1030.  That was the year of the Battle of Stiklestad, which took place on these fields.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Olaf Haraldson was one of the more powerful kings of the time but he wanted to be the most powerful king.  He also had a second agenda.  He had converted from paganism to Christianity and he was spreading the faith.  Unfortunately, he was spreading it with his sword, which made him extremely unpopular with the local chieftains.  When he marched into this valley with his army of 3,000 men, he was greeted by the locals who had 7,000 men.  Olaf never had a chance.

Olaf lost the battle and his life, but in the end, he won the war.  His son Magnus was able to unite the tribes and become the ruler of all of Norway.

After the battle, King Olaf’s body was taken away from the fields of Stiklestad and buried near Trondheim.  Soon stories of miracles began to circulate.  They centered around the area where Olaf was buried.  So one year after Olaf’s death his body was dug up in the presence of Norway’s most prominent people.  The legend says that he was as handsome as the day he was buried and his beard and hair had continued to grow... a miracle!  Olaf was canonized and became St. Olaf, “The Eternal King of Norway.”

Today the seat of his followers is Trondheim Cathedral.  Olaf had been buried right here, at the exact spot where the high altar now stands.  And the legend says that a holy spring came up from the earth at that very point.  Pilgrims came from all over to venerate Olaf and to drink the holy water of the spring.

TOVE SOREIDE:  And they started to build the church about forty years after Olaf’s death, and it took about 250 years to complete it.  The best kept part of the cathedral today is the octagon -- the place where the high altar is standing.  And the octagon has eight walls and was built around the shrine, standing in the middle with Olaf in it.  And the number eight symbolizes eternity because Olaf was Norway’s eternal king, and he was Norway’s most important martyr.

This is the famous baroque organ which was built in Germany by an organ builder called Johann Joaquin Wagner in Brandenburg in 1740, and it has recently been restored and now organists from all over the world come to Trondheim and they make records and they give concerts, and the sound is exactly as in Bach’s own time.

Today, this is the national shrine of Norway.  This is also the coronation church of our country, and all Norwegians feel that this is the most sacred place in our country.

The cathedral of Trondheim is at the center of Norway’s religious history, but it is also part of Norway’s gastronomic saga.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  In 1531, a Danish officer sent a bottle of flavored liquor here.  He sent it to the Archbishop with a note saying it would cure any internal illness.  Herbs were the medicine of the time and alcohol was used to extract their medicinal properties.  The Archbishop was so pleased with the results that he became the founder of the distillery business in Norway.

The church recommended that farmers start growing potatoes which were very nutritious.  The farmers soon realized that they could distill alcohol from those potatoes.  The potato became known as the “Nordic grape” and the liquor became known as Aquavit -- “the water of life.”

Today Aquavit is the national spirit of Norway and it is produced by a government-owned monopoly.  It’s made with a potato mash and flavored with ten different herbs, with caraway seeds delivering the dominant flavor.  Then, Norwegian Aquavits are aged in old sherry casks.  But what makes the most famous Norwegian Aquavit brand famous is what happens to those casks.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  In 1805, a woman by the name of Lysholm invested her money in a trading ship which she sent off to the East Indies.  Included in the cargo were a couple of casks of Aquavit.  Nobody’s quite sure why, but the Aquavit remained unsold and, in fact, came back here to Trondheim.  When they tasted it, it tasted better than when they sent it off.  Maybe it was the rolling of the deck.  Maybe it was the fact that it went through a number of different climates.  They don’t know.  But they know the flavor had improved.  And today, the company takes its Aquavit and ships it in sherry casks as deck cargo on ships that go from Norway to Australia and then back to Norway.  The brand is called Linie; it means “the line,” and it’s a reference to the fact that the Aquavit crossed the equator, the line of the equator, twice before it was ready for sale.

And every bottle carries the details of its voyage on the back side of its label.  This particular bottle went on a ship called the Tampa.  It left Norway on May 15, 1997 and returned on September 29, later that year.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Traditionally, Aquavit is served with beer and food.  Eat the food, drink the beer, and take the Aquavit as a chaser.  For medicinal reasons, of course.

Now that I am suitably fortified for the Norwegian winter I can further explore the city of Trondheim, which is easily done on foot.  As major cities go it has a small population, only 140,000, but it is an amazing center of history and culture.

This bridge was built in 1681 and is still in constant use.  The city is set deep inside the Trondheim fjord that runs out to the Atlantic Ocean.  A fjord is a body of water that cuts into the land from the sea.  The wooden warehouses along the waterfront are reminders of what this city looked like in the 1700s when it was in the business of exporting fish and lumber.

In the center of the city there are three wooden mansions that were built in the late 1700s.  Each was constructed by a widow as part of an unofficial competition to see who could build the most magnificent house with the money that they had inherited from their late husbands.  And it was not a friendly competition, either.  Sounds like the competition between the Viking goddesses.  This one is called Stiftsgarden and it turned out to be the largest wooden mansion in Scandinavia.  At present it is the official summer residence of Norway’s Royal Family.

On the western edge of the city is the open-air Folkmuseum.  It has a collection of over sixty buildings that are representative of different periods in the history of Norway.  Tours are given by guides like Gyda Hoffman.  She’s going to show us what’s called a stave church.  This one was built in the year 1170.

GYDA HOFFMAN:  And as you can see it’s only wood, except from the foundation here; it’s only rocks with no mortar in between to let the air flow freely, and that prevents the wood from rotting.  And thus, these churches have kept well and we can still find them around many places in Norway.  No metal was used.  Only wooden pegs.  The only metal that we find is on the door -- the hinges and the lock, made of iron.  In the inside there is only two rooms: the nave and the chancel.  And it’s a very dark room, there are no windows and no benches to sit on.  It was common that people would stand or kneel when they came to church.  We’re now in the holy chancel in this church.  This is where the priests would perform the communion and the mass in Latin.  You see the narrow passage or the narrow opening here from the nave into the chancel, symbolizing the narrow path into the kingdom of God.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The Folkmuseum is also a good place to take a look at an ancient Norwegian tradition called rosemaling.  The Vikings were great wood carvers and that was the basis for most of the furniture made in the rural areas.  But by the 16 and 1700s, more sophisticated churchmen and nobles were coming north with furniture that had been painted.

Peasants began to copy the paintings on their simple carved furniture.  The result was rosemaling, which means “rose painting,” though the designs include much more than roses.  Chests, beds, chairs, tables, kitchen equipment -- everything got painted.  It brightened up the simple surroundings and it gave the artistic talents of an isolated valley a way to express themselves.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  There was very little mobility in these societies.  A peasant’s gifted child was still a peasant’s child and there was virtually no chance for him or her to join the European art world.  Rosemaling gave them an opportunity to express their creativity within the village.  And within the village they were greatly appreciated.  Today, their work still is.  A good example of antique rosemaling will command some of the highest prices in the Norwegian art market.

One of the areas at Trondheim’s Folkmuseum is made up of a farm complex the way a farm looked during the 16 and 1700s.  The small building in the center was the cookhouse.  It was built away from the main building as a precaution against setting the main house on fire.  It was the building where bread was baked, using an ancient technique that came from the Vikings.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  As the Vikings traveled around they kept an eye out for any new technology they could bring home.  One of the things they saw was the water-powered mill.  Clearly an improvement over the little hand mills they had been using.  The large mill allowed them to grind large amounts of flour and to do it quickly.  And that changed the way they made bread.  Instead of making little moist breads that only stayed fresh for a couple of hours, they would grind huge amounts of flour and make enough bread to last them through the year.  It was a bread that would last through the winter and stay fresh, and that allowed them to bring it on their boats.  It became extremely popular, and today it is the national bread of Norway.

The dough is made from rye flour and water.  It’s rolled out as thinly as possible... transferred to a griddle in the fireplace... and cooked on both sides.  You would be hard-pressed to find many homes in Norway that still make their own crisp bread, but in its store-bought form it is found in almost every home and restaurant.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The company that makes the bread is called Kavli.  And the man who developed the original company also developed the original commercial machine for baking crisp bread.  His name was Nils Halvorsen.  His mother was a widow who supported her family by moving from farm to farm and baking crisp bread for the farmers.  It was a back-breaking job.  Nils was working in a paper mill and as he looked at the rollers that turned out paper, he figured that they could be modified to turn out flatbread.  In 1919, he developed the first machine that would do the job and won a prize.  It’s a perfect example of the ancient Viking love of good food and technology.

They’re made without artificial additives.  They’re high in protein, high in complex carbohydrates, high in fiber, and low in fat.  They make the classic Crispy Thin, plus one that’s flavored with garlic and another with onion -- two foods that were part of the Viking diet.  They’re used with dips, they’re the base for snacks, usually covered with cheese or smoked salmon, and alongside soups and stews.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During the early years of this century the crisp bread began being distributed in the United States and Canada -- and for a good reason.  There are 4 million Norwegians in Norway.  There are 5 million Norwegians in North America.

But man does not live by bread alone.  So what’s good to eat in Trondheim?  The Vikings who settled here were great fish eaters, and Trondheim is still a good town for a fish lover.  As a matter of fact, all of Norway is into fish.  The nation has a very large fishing industry and exports some of the finest fish in the world.

Norway does its traditional fishing in the rich grounds of the Arctic Ocean.  The waters are cold and clean.  But Norway also pioneered Atlantic salmon farming.  They offer salmon fresh, frozen, smoked, and cut up into convenient shapes.  Norwegian fishermen are always trying to make life easier for the cooks.  They also have a big catch of cod which feeds primarily on krill that gives them a sweet mild flavor and a firm white flesh.  And Norwegians are very serious about their haddock.

 Harold Osa is an acquaintance of mine from Oslo and the Executive Chef at the Continental Hotel.  He came up to Trondheim to have dinner with me and decided to prepare one dish with each of those fishes.

He made a baked Norwegian Salmon with a basil crust and ratatouille... a Norwegian Cod baked in a pesto crust with a smoked tomato relish... and finally, roasted Norwegian Haddock on a Caesar salad.

If you visit Trondheim, I’m not sure that Harold will come up to cook for you, but I can tell you that I had a number of excellent meals at a Trondheim fish restaurant on the waterfront.  It’s in a two-hundred-year-old wharf building and it’s called the Havfruen.  The interior is nautical but nice.  They have a seasonal menu but they also prepare a menu of the day, which gives the chefs a regular opportunity to demonstrate their creativity.

Today they made an appetizer of shrimp that were lightly breaded and sautéed and served with three mayonnaise-based sauces -- a garlic, a mango and a chili.  The main course was monkfish with two sauces, one sauce made from beets and the other from snap peas.  Dessert was a simple but very tasty apple tart with sherbet and one sauce with a licorice flavor.

Just down the road is the restaurant Bryggen.  Bryggen is considered the finest classical restaurant in Trondheim.  The room is decorated in colors that are associated with Norwegian farm communities.  Bryggen wants to give their guests the feeling that are eating in a romantic country house.  The chef, Trond Kolstad, takes the traditional foods of Norway and prepares them with a French accent.  Dinner started with an appetizer of marinated Norwegian salmon called Gravlox.  The main course was grilled scallops on a bed of pasta.  Dessert was a chocolate surprise.

The Bryggen Restaurant is just at the edge of Trondheim’s Bekklander district.  It’s the old part of town and it is charming.  Old buildings.  Small shops.  And lots of good places to eat.  One of the most enjoyable is called the Kafe Gåsa, which means “the goose.”  I asked the manager, Calle Fegth and his cook Ingabricked to make lunch for our crew.  They work in a kitchen that is small and much more like a home kitchen than a restaurant.  And they cook the traditional foods that you would find in a Norwegian home.  They came up with a few recipes that use the national cheese, which is called Jarlsberg.  It’s a semi-soft, part-skim milk cheese with holes like Swiss cheese, but it is milder and it has a nuttier flavor.  Jarlsberg makes their classic, but you can also get a hickory-smoked version and a Lite from which they have removed more than half the fat.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): It’s named after Count Gustave Wilhelm Jarlsberg on whose estate this cheese was first made.  A cheese like this is very much in keeping with the gastronomic objectives of the Vikings.  It is a simple and easy way to preserve the important nutrients in fresh milk.  Preserved foods were very important to the Vikings.  They kept them alive during the winter and they fed them during the long voyages that brought them throughout Europe and eventually to North America.

One of the other foods that brought the Vikings to North America was the codfish, which they followed to Nova Scotia.  Fitting that Ingabricked combine Jarlsberg and cod in one dish.  He also made a lasagna using the hickory-smoked Jarlsberg.  The third dish could be any Norwegian fish.  The cheese comes as triangles of baked Jarlsberg that are used as a garnish.  Ingabricked is truly devoted to his national foods.

It is the high quality of the farm products in Norway that make foods like these taste so good.  But farm life here is difficult.

The farmers of Norway work farther north than any other farmers in the world and their climate is harsh.  The growing season lasts only ninety days.  For thousands of years Norway has been short of food and concerned with feeding its own population.  But things are changing.  The Norwegians are working on new sources of international agricultural income.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The final result, however, may turn out to be not just international but inter-planetary.  Following their ancient Viking tradition of exploring foreign lands for food, researchers here at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology are trying to figure out how to grow food in outer space.

Professor Tor-Henning Iversen has been working with the European space industry and NASA in the hope of getting a farm onto the International Space Station, which is planned for the year 2003.

PROFESSOR TOR-HENNING IVERSEN:  We are dealing with a lot of problems which we don’t normally observe on the Earth, on the ground.  We have a lack of space in space, and at the same time they may experience a lack of water as well.  So therefore we have to close the water and the plants in a very hermetically-sealed system where we have control over the water and the plants get the water.  Because the problem will be the same for the plant on the ground and in space:  they need water.

We are trying to solve some of the problems in space by cultivating strawberries, as you can see here.  This is the room where we’re stressing the plants before we bring them out into space, so that they can experience what they can expect in space.  When we get small strawberries like this, the plants do not behave normally.  And we also have problems with the pollination, as you can see over here.  If the pollination is not perfect, then they behave like this.  And we expect, when we come out with plants on the station, space station, that we will observe similar effects as we do here.  But we can also obtain perfect plants and perfect strawberries in here.  So perhaps you should try this one.

BURT WOLF:  What makes you think this is a good one?

PROFESSOR IVERSEN:  It’s not a good one.

BURT WOLF:  Oh.  Okay...

PROFESSOR IVERSEN:  But you can try that one first.  It’s fresh.

BURT WOLF:  That’s not bad, you know.

PROFESSOR IVERSEN:  “Not bad.”  Well, we want more than “not bad.”


When this system is in place on the space station, it will produce fifty times the amount of strawberries as an equal-sized patch on Earth... and that’s a lot of shortcake.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  So it looks pretty much like the forces that shaped the Viking tradition, the need for exploration, the love of advanced technology, the long winters, the short summers, and a general appreciation for good things to eat and drink are still very much part of the Norwegian tradition.  And speaking of tradition, I hope you will join us next time on TRAVELS & TRADITIONS.  I’m Burt Wolf.