Still working on my ever so overwhelming home project for the rest of the month and studying for my finals. Whoooooo. . .decided doing all this in the span of three week was a good idea must be coo-coo for cocoa pops (that person being me). I got an email last week asking for some advice on enjoying Thanksgiving in Norway as an American.
Here are a few of my tips (most of the stores mentioned are in the Stavanger region-so check in your area for equivalents):
Q: Is it difficult to get food products related to American Thanksgiving in Norway?
A: I must say you can definitely get stuff here, but it depends on how much you want to spend. As the American community in Stavanger is sizable, there is a lot you can find at Meny near the Stadium, Helgø in Marierio and Stokka plus at Middleton ICA in Tasta. Coop Obs! is also a good place as the selection is high and prices low.
Q: Where can I buy-
A (frozen) Turkey?
Coop Obs! usually starts having their birds on sale for 29 NOK/kg. this time of year so keep your eyes out for the circular. Fresh turkeys can usually be ordered from local butchers and poultry farms directly. Oven bags are found in a variety of sizes in most stores that sell groceries. For those of you making stuffing from scratch, you can find chopped sage in Norway but I have yet to find rubbed sage. You can always use the amount your recipe calls for of the chopped stuff in place of rubbed sage.
I’ve never seen fresh or frozen pumpkin pies in Stavanger. You can find pumpkin pie mix in the can (Middleton ICA, Helgø in Marierio or Stokka), but you can also try to make pumpkin puree from pumpkins and/or butternut squash which can be bought in nicer grocery stores like Meny. You’ll find lots of recipes on sites like allrecipies.com for pumpkin puree (not mix). Allrecipies.com is great as the recipes are usually American, but the site offers a metric converter and a serving converter (great for making servings of 12 in Europe, when the recipe is for 6 and in US measurements).
I’ve never, ever seen frozen pie shell in Norway but you can buy pie shell mix (called “pai”) in a yellow box in the baking section. You mix it with water and roll it out like dough; put it in the pie pan and you’re set. I use this for savory pies but also used it one year to make my very first pumpkin pie (my family is Southern so we always make sweet potato pie). Norwegians aren’t as big on the convenience/disposable food thing as Americans tend to be so you probably won’t be able to find a pie crust in a disposable pie pan. You can find glass pie dishes at IKEA though for pretty cheap or in most stores (although not as cheap as IKEA).I’ve seen Karo syrup and pecans at Meny near the stadium in past years if you want to make pecan pie.
This is really common actually-Coop Obs!, and larger ICA stores most usually sell these. Be sure to look for ones grown in the U.S. otherwise you’ll get the white one common in Southeast Asian cooking. For those of you who use marshmallows with your sweet potatoes (no judgment), you can find medium to large sized marshmallows in most Coop Stores and the tiny ones (for a not so tiny price) in the stores which stock expat goods.
I have never, ever seen this in Norway but you can find large grain polenta in nicer grocery stores. I venture to the “ethnic” stores i.e. Turkish and Iraqi or Iranian stores for my corn meal as it is much cheaper there and the turnover is higher. I have switched over to Far East brand corn grain as it is larger cut then polenta so the edges of the corn bread are crunchier ( I’m anal about my cornbread!). Of course, you don’t have to be a fanatic like me (no judgment), so polenta will work just fine. Again, you can find recipes for corn bread from scratch using metric on allrecipes.com or from the myriad of recipe web sites out there.
You can find American (OceanSpray) cranberries fresh in the bag this time of year at Helgø Marierio and Helgø Stokka, but they always have some frozen too. I have heard that some people use Norwegian cranberries, tyttebær, for the cranberry sauce with great success. I’ve never tried this however.
The ‘ethnic stores’ in Norway are also a jackpot haven for black eyed peas (dried or in the can) and okra. Also keep your eyes peeled for fresh tofu and seitan, which is great if you have vegetarians coming to dinner.
Here is a food glossary to help translate spices, flours and other food items.
Q: I am on a budget but would still like to enjoy Thanksgiving. Any money-saving tips you can offer?
A: I don’t have a car and try to stay within a budget so I don’t mind making some things totally from scratch. If I make anything with pumpkin this year, I will substitute butternut squash for the pumpkin and make it from scratch. It’s more of an effort of time coordination than of cooking technique. You may want to do the same depending upon what you want to make and how much of a budget you have. I also make the cranberry sauce from scratch and keep my eyes peeled for the specials on frozen turkey that usually begin in early November.
Q: I’m worried about serving dinner to my Norwegian colleagues/friends/family for the first time.
A: Your non-American guests will definitely enjoy the dinner -they’ve all seen it in the movies and can’t wait to brag that they were able to participate! It should go well-so don’t worry-and if something fails, it is a good learning for next year. Enjoy yourself, don’t stress on the cooking and focus on enjoying the company of your guests.