Matpakke - Most Boring Lunch in the world - Ever?
February 28, 2019 7:07 PM   Subscribe

It's not a sandwich, it's a matpakke! "It's not supposed to taste anything, it should be a disappointment when you open and eat it, and you are not supposed to look forward to your lunch." posted by Lexica (66 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
BBC had something on this a little while back. Maybe this explains those tasty-but-salty fish roe in a tube stuff that they sell at Ikea?
posted by Bee'sWing at 7:20 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


"you are not supposed to look forward to your lunch."

Seems like a pretty awful sentiment to live by to me.
posted by reductiondesign at 7:24 PM on February 28 [14 favorites]


Gallows humor at its best.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:29 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


This Medium piece goes into some detail about the practical aspects, and even diagrams what can be considered pålegg.

"you are not supposed to look forward to your lunch."

Seems like a pretty awful sentiment to live by to me.


I want to agree, but then remember that Norwegians have weeks long Summer celebrations and other festivals we don't make time for in the US, so maybe a little daily deferred gratification is worth it. It also just seemed like some cultural self-deprecation in line with Norwegian humor.

But I eat a cup of lentil soup pretty often for lunch so I know about keeping expectations trim.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:32 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


This was great! I liked his warnings to foreign viewers who would reasonably desire to layer on the brown cheese, or include exotic substances like sliced tomatoes or chicken. Then, apparently, it wouldn’t be proper Matpakke. Fabulous!
posted by but no cigar at 7:47 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


Suddenly, Mayhem makes much more sense.
posted by suetanvil at 7:51 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Gah, the whole time [spoilers maybe] I was thinking that when he got to the end, he was going to like, assemble it into a sandwich, despite being told that matpakke is not a sandwich
posted by 23skidoo at 8:06 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


This is a world of contrasts, isn't it? In Norway, lunch is a "just get by between breakfast and dinner thing" but then in, say, Barcelona, the midday meal is the meal and the others just tide you over until then (and/or provide a pretext for drinking). The brown cheese, however, is something only a Scandanavian can ever really appreciate, I think.

(OTOH, I am totally down with the salmiak, though I don't personally know anyone else who is.)
posted by sjswitzer at 8:42 PM on February 28


I was following until the end, where it's not eaten like a sandwich.

Totally understand the practical aspects of it though but I already drink Soylent.
posted by meowzilla at 8:56 PM on February 28


These are my people! I never knew! More fussy than what I eat for lunch every day though — two pieces of dry hard rye bread, a thin layer of sandwich meat, and a smear of mustard. All that fussing with paper, butter, and different ingredients on multiple layers. Such decadence!
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:16 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


Now I wonder if their breakfasts put my daily black coffee and small bowl of plain yoghurt to shame...
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:19 PM on February 28


As a fan of Scandinavian fish-based products in tubes, I was really worried that stuff wouldn't end up being part of a matpakke. I feel quite satisfied now.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:17 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


I'm not joking, by the way. I also like tidy, practical lunches. I feel like I'd still be hungry after I ate my matpakke, though.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:19 PM on February 28


This actually reminded me of how much I love simple breakfasts and lunches. Every time I have ham and butter on good bread I think about what a great lunch it is and my ideal breakfast is often softly scrambled egg on buttered toast.

I always seem to forget this on weekdays though as I grab an $8 breakfast burrito on my way into the office followed by $12 of bad Chinese food for lunch. If I’m going to get fatter it should st least be on stuff I want to eat.

This is all a long way of saying I have some shopping to do this weekend.
posted by mikesch at 10:21 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]


I soooort of want to ask my Norwegian friend about this, but I don't know how to do it without it coming off as an insult, or culture-fishing, so that's kind of a no-go.

(OTOH, I am totally down with the salmiak, though I don't personally know anyone else who is.)

Salmiakki is nice, yeah. Not specifically Norwegian, mind you - Finnish, originally - but nice in small doses.
posted by kafziel at 11:58 PM on February 28


Oh my, the word "matpakke" has been a running joke among my friends since that BBC article came out. The less-than-helpful gloss of the pronunciations just seemed so hilarious that we couldn't stop saying it.

"The ‘matpakke’, pronounced ‘maadpukke’, with a satisfying emphasis on the ‘e’,"

MaaaaaaadpukkEH! Madpuuuukeeeee! Go ahead, have some fun with it.

It seems to have something in common with the extremely depressing nature of Dutch sandwiches, where more than one or two ingredients in the middle is considered a bit too extravagant. Whoa, butter AND sliced deli meat? What a luxury!

And god forbid you want a hot meal for lunch. No, a warm meal is reserved for dinner and dinner alone. I was also recently told (somewhat tongue in cheek) that my breakfast of toast with peanut butter and a sliced banana needed to have one fewer ingredient in order to qualify as a properly Dutch breakfast. That's when I realized I might be in the wrong country.
posted by wakannai at 12:41 AM on March 1 [6 favorites]


Friends brought back a large pack of that brown caramelised cheese for us as a present, after a trip to Sweden. It's one of the weirdest things I've ever tasted. I would not look forward to that lunch. That said, they did say that opinion on it (the cheese) is divided, even over there.
posted by dowcrag at 12:44 AM on March 1


Salmiakki is nice, yeah. Not specifically Norwegian, mind you - Finnish, originally

Citation needed. I mean, salmiakki is the Finnish word for it, but saltlakrids is the same thing. It is unclear exactly where in the Nordics it originates. It's common in Scandinavia as well as Finland.
posted by Dysk at 1:22 AM on March 1


Also, how does Kvikk Lunsj fit with the idea that packed lunches are supposed to be boring and plain? Kvikk Lunsj is neither of those things. Do normal rules just go out the window when you're up a mountain?
posted by Dysk at 1:51 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


As a New Zealander with a proud tradition of disappointing sandwiches with marmite, cheese, processed meat, but NEVER all of these things together, this really spoke to me, disappointingly.

As a Jew, it's like, these people have rediscovered not mixing meat and dairy, not cause kashrus, but because they don't want to get too excited.

As an aside (time flies like a banana), by palage, does he mean "spread"? As in sandwich spread?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:52 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


Do you mean pålægg? It refers to anything you put on or in a sandwich. So it includes but is not limited to cold cuts, sandwich spread, eggs, fish, etc, etc but not butter. Anything you can put on top of the butter to make an open-faced sandwich.

Matpakke is pretty similar to madpakke in Denmark, it's just not something most people persist with beyond childhood/school.
posted by Dysk at 2:05 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


Mmm, Liver Paste. I found the Wikipedia Norwegian page for Leverpostei, Google Translate gives the following gem:

Liver paste is a potato containing liver . The liver pods produced for sale are normally made from pig liver and fat flesh . Liver paste can also be made with cattle and bird pupils.

which was a (I'm assuming bad) translation of this:

Leverpostei er en postei som inneholder lever. Den leverposteien som produseres for salg er normalt laget av griselever og fett flesk. Leverpostei kan også lages med storfe- og fuglelever.
posted by jamespake at 2:40 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


How on earth it's translated postei (which means pâté) into both paste and... potato? kinda boggles my mind. And it's turned fuglelever - bird liver - into bird pupils?

Norwegian must be something of a blind spot for Google.


OH SHIT I just realised how it got bird pupils! It's parsing it not as fugle lever - bird liver - but as fugl elever - bird (singular) students. It's pupils as in students, not as in eyes (which would be pupiller in Norwegian)
posted by Dysk at 2:45 AM on March 1 [17 favorites]


I soooort of want to ask my Norwegian friend about this, but I don't know how to do it without it coming off as an insult, or culture-fishing, so that's kind of a no-go.

Not Norwegian, but Nordic: I've yet to meet another Nordic person who would be offended by people from non-Nordic cultures asking us about apparent peculiarities in ours, as long as you're not actively an asshole about it. We are small populations on the global scale, all of us, and have no illusions to the contrary. We own our quirks, are often proud of them, and are generally more than happy to tell you more about them. My advice would be to go ahead and ask, it should be fine.
posted by jklaiho at 3:17 AM on March 1 [4 favorites]


I soooort of want to ask my Norwegian friend about this, but I don't know how to do it without it coming off as an insult, or culture-fishing, so that's kind of a no-go.

Asking someone about their home culture because you're genuinely curious is "culture-fishing"? Giving people a chance to share something about the most significant place in their lives, rather than having to pretend that they're exactly the same as everyone else where they're living now, apart from having an accent? You can ask me about the Huon Valley all you like, and I'll open up in a flood of repressed Proustian memories, thrilled that somebody else cares enough to ask. I won't think you're culture-fishing.

But perhaps this explains something about my immigrant experience of the past 18 years, and my experience as an internal migrant in my home country in the decade before that. I could probably count on both hands the number of times I've been asked to share detailed observations about the culture of where I'm from, whether it's Australia or Tasmania or the Huon Valley. Living in the UK I've just assumed it's a British thing of people keeping themselves to themselves, or that people assume that nowhere in Australia has much culture worth hearing about.

Hooray for personal websites, where we can dump all of our memories and anyone who reads them won't feel they're fishing. And hooray for YouTube videos that people make about their home culture.
posted by rory at 3:27 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


Hey, Norwegian here. Ask away. I'll be back after I check out the links.

Do normal rules just go out the window when you're up a mountain?

Yes! The we Norwegians wear colourful clothing, greet strangers and have tasty lunches. Seriously!
posted by Harald74 at 4:05 AM on March 1 [13 favorites]


Leverpostei er en postei som inneholder lever. Den leverposteien som produseres for salg er normalt laget av griselever og fett flesk. Leverpostei kan også lages med storfe- og fuglelever.

Leverpostei is a paté containing liver. The leverpostei that is made for sale is usually made of pork liver and fatty meat. Leverpostei kan also be made with beef or bird liver.
posted by Harald74 at 4:08 AM on March 1


And I have issues with his wrapping technique. He could totally save at least 1/3 of the wrapping paper, plus it will unroll while in his bag.

(He breaks character by eating the cheese slice ny itself, BTW. That's practically decadent. There's a separate word for eating stuff that's supposed to be part of a meal separately, that's how seriously we take it. It's called mævle in my local dialect.)
posted by Harald74 at 4:17 AM on March 1 [15 favorites]


From the BBC piece:

While British office workers rush around each lunchtime, queueing at cafés, bankrupting ourselves on superfood salads and deli-style sandwiches or, worse, skipping the meal altogether, Norwegians have it all organised. Each morning, going back decades, they diligently prepare a packed lunch.

....Uh, people? You can have the best of both worlds. There are many ways for you to pack a lunch and have it still be a good lunch. Like, I'm getting ready to start a new job on Monday, and I'll be bringing with me the cute lunch tote my mom sent me for my birthday with the little lunch boxy thing she also sent packed inside, and in that will be a lovely lunch with a homemade fruit salad, a melange of lightly cooked asparagus and snow peas, a nice crusty roll and some grilled chicken.

And as to what the Medium article says about not overeating during lunch, or the matpakke not taking up much space? My lunch container is not large. Sorted. And as to the ease of preparation? It takes me minutes to open the fridge and scoop something from it into my lunch box. And as to "decision fatigue"? I pre-make a couple bowls of things on the weekend and leave them in the fridge, and then my only decision every morning is "what bowl is most full? I'll use that one."

I mean, for those who are truly happy with the minimalist approach - and I understand why some would be - go with God. But for those who are thinking "oh, I wish I could pack a lunch instead of spending a lot, but yikes, it looks like packing a lunch is so boring" - there is a third path.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:57 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


My husband and I were recently captivated by scenes of Norway, notably in the current Netflix Telemark Canal video. We even discussed a visit, until a scene where an enthusiastic chef displayed gourmet Norwegian food items. Although I am genetically Scandinavian, seeing what folks like to eat there brought our plans to a screeching halt. I still think it looks like a beautiful place, but on a visit we’d likely starve. This video reinforces that impression.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:01 AM on March 1


We have McDonald's, Burger King and US style pizzerias as well, kinnakeet, so you can easily find something familiar if you're not feeling adventurous.
posted by Harald74 at 5:07 AM on March 1


for those who are thinking "oh, I wish I could pack a lunch instead of spending a lot, but yikes, it looks like packing a lunch is so boring" - there is a third path.

I think you might be underestimating the cost of fresh vegetables like asparagus in a lot of Norway...
posted by Dysk at 5:38 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


shiny ... sweaty .... cheese FTW
posted by chavenet at 5:53 AM on March 1


Oh, I made that cheese a few years back! It's not super hard if you have some whey from making another cheese. It tastes... not like most cheese
posted by Greg Nog at 5:53 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Salty licorice (salmiakki ) is a thing in the Netherlands and in Germany too.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:59 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


There is something appealing about this to me, but, god, not every day! But I might just go get some butcher paper and try doing it once next week and see how it goes. Wonder who sells liver pate around here?
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:59 AM on March 1


Fish stuff in a toothpaste tube would lend itself very naturally to practical jokes, I would think. I do wish you could buy good, dense rye bread here. There must be a specialty bakery somewhere that has it, but I haven't come across it anywhere.

My personal solution to lunches is to bring leftovers, but these look fine to me (aside from the leverpostei, which is not to my taste). His two matpakke total out to the equivalent of a basic sandwich I might make, and no more repetitive than my leftovers.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:08 AM on March 1


Question for Norwegians: if someone brings a more elaborate lunch (like, say, literally anything), are they looked down on or teased?
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:10 AM on March 1


Well, a regular lunch can be more elaborate than this guy lets on (his tongue being firmly planted in his cheek), so having two or three toppings on you slice of bread would not be out of the question. For instance: Butter, sliced ham, cheese and a bit of bell pepper or something on top is quite normal. Or pickled cucumber on your liver paté. Or bringing some fruit in addition to the bread.

If you brought something really elaborate, though, it would be noticed. But the reaction I think would be dependent on what kind of environment you have at work. I would expect to be gently teased, but I expect you could be mocked if your workplace is toxic. We do have the Jante law, you know.
posted by Harald74 at 6:20 AM on March 1 [4 favorites]


Asparagus: At the moment a kilogram cost 2.7 Big Macs. No idea if that's expensive or not (relative, of course, our USD 5.70 Big Macs are some of the most expensive in the world in absolute terms.)
posted by Harald74 at 6:22 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


I wish I'd seen the grocery store video before our trip to Norway last summer, then I would have been prepared for the mass quantities of frozen foods, which are tough to work with when you're staying in hotels. I loved Norway, every thing about it, including brown cheese, but it's best as an ice cream flavor. Brown cheese ice cream is yummy, and tastes sort of like dulce de leche ice cream. Our favorite Norwegian cheese for lunch was Norvegia.
posted by ceejaytee at 7:20 AM on March 1


The lunch video is a nice intro to the channel, but did anyone else see this video? OMG, that is a brilliant idea. No more trash at the park, no more waiting behind people who don't understand statistics at the gas station. How can we make this happen in the US?
posted by ambulocetus at 7:48 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Well, to each their own, but personally if I can't have a real lunch, I'd rather just not eat and save the calories for a later meal. Life is meaningless and cruel enough without boring food. Eating is, like, third on the list of things that make life worth living, and the other two I'm not allowed to do at work.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:59 AM on March 1


I assume by “brown cheese” they mean something like gjetost? I frequently have it with black coffee for breakfast. It is great sliced ever-so-thinly and my grandkids always ask for “grandpa cheese” for breakfast—they’ve been stealing it off my plate since they were toddlers. So I am having a hard time understanding why so many dislike it? Sure, it’s not Stilton or Velveeta (the two classic cheeses here in Minnesota [note: joking]), but it is wonderful anyway.

I also don’t understand what “culture fishing” is supposed to be. I always enjoy asking friends about their home counties and what life is like for them. If in order to be a modern liberal I have to eschew this, I guess it’s time to get a MAGA hat.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 8:01 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


I read this article when it came out - as a Norwegian living abroad, I'm honorbound to - and I had to laugh. Because I was reading it on my lunch break at work and was, indeed, happily munching away on brunost (brown cheese) on knekkebrød (Wasa bread). It's total comfort food to me, because it's what basically every Norwegian child brought to school for lunch when I was growing up. If I recall, he didn't mention Wasa bread in the article, which seemed a strange oversight. Unless it's gone completely out of favor since I moved, I guess.

Btw, Scandinavians tend to be very chill about answering questions about our culture. For the most part, we're just excited that someone noticed us!
posted by widdershins at 8:21 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


I want that man to narrate the minutia of my day to day life. I think I'm in love.
posted by treepour at 8:47 AM on March 1


I tried to look up "culture fishing," but the results are spoiled by aquaculture. For myself, I have the sense that it is rude to ask someone questions about their culture unless a) you have a friendly relationship with them, more than acquaintanceship, or b) they have put themselves forward as being willing to discuss and share that culture. But then, I have been on the internet a lot, and people tend to use the internet to talk about when they are sick of talking about their culture, not when they aren't, so I tread lightly.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:50 AM on March 1


Also, the matpakke sounds pretty great to me in principle. Taken with the fruit and maybe some milk, it's a portable shelf-stable lunch that has a balance of carbs and dense proteins to give you the energy you need without sending you into the nap zone as you digest. It doesn't need reheating or utensils, and the trash is biodegradable. The disadvantages are apparent to a vegetarian who doesn't care for eggs, and having pretty much the same lunch as everybody else also seems to eliminate the excuses for lingering.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:56 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


But then, I have been on the internet a lot, and people tend to use the internet to talk about when they are sick of talking about their culture, not when they aren't, so I tread lightly.

I can see how it would get annoying if you were a high-profile person online who constantly got bombarded with unsolicited questions that treated you as an expert on everything to do with your culture - that isn't going to feel comfortable. But asking a real-life friend about their culture isn't really like that. It's not being part of some anonymous online pile-on, it's making connections with someone you personally know.
posted by rory at 9:09 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


We do have the Jante law, you know.

Oh gosh - I didn't know this term, but after googling it explains something I'd never quite understood. One of my cousins was very close with this man who was killed in Sweden for dressing punk/emo. I never could really grasp the attackers' motive until now.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:45 AM on March 1


"Asparagus: At the moment a kilogram cost 2.7 Big Macs. No idea if that's expensive or not (relative, of course, our USD 5.70 Big Macs are some of the most expensive in the world in absolute terms.)"

Where I am in the US (midwest), asparagus in the springtime is 99 cents a pound (99-cent asparagus is the first sign of spring around here!), so about $2.20 for a kilo. In the off-season, it can be as much as $3/pound, so $6.60 a kilogram. Still a far cry from your $15/kilo!

My BFF's husband is Norwegian (living in Chicago with her) and even after 15 years he is still gaga for cheap American produce because food in Norway is SO. EXPENSIVE. and the growing season is so short for local produce. Every summer when the sweet corn comes up in Illinois he gets really excited and reminisces about how in Oslo they only got corn on the cob like once in the summer, and it cost an arm and a leg, and it came on a boat so it wasn't very sweet by the time it arrived, and otherwise he had canned corn. We grew corn in our backyard so we saved it for his visit and would do the "don't pick it until the water's already boiling" thing and it was his absolute favorite part of summer.

I am totally asking him about matpakke next time I see him!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:37 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


I soooort of want to ask my Norwegian friend about this, but I don't know how to do it without it coming off as an insult, or culture-fishing, so that's kind of a no-go.

I love insulting people and I love asking people about the peculiarities of their culture so sending this to my Norwegian friend was literally the first thing I did, before I even watched the video myself.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:02 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


The best thing about living in Sweden is watching your Norwegian business visitors slip into a food-coma after lunch. Swedes eat a fully prepared meal with side-salad, coffee, etc for lunch. Norwegians can’t cope.
posted by J.R. Hartley at 1:25 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


This is fun, and I think very representative of Norwegian culture.

BUT: as Dysk said, in Denmark, we have madpakker, which are the same as matpakker. When I was a kid I always fought my mum about them, because I preferred the plain kind and she wanted to impress her peers by making more elaborate sandwiches. Something that sits in your bag for 3-4 hours needs to be plain. Traditional Danish madpakker, even today are much more rough than what he shows in the video: they are on whole rye bread which is more filling and more chewy. And they usually feature salami and/or Danish cheese which are both less sweet than the Norwegian options he describes. Often Danish kids don't like butter under the pålæg.

Sweden has this great system where you get food coupons so you can have a real lunch. It's good for workers, and for the food business.

That said, a huge thing in Norway is that a lot of produce is incredibly expensive. It's a joke that you can buy half cucumbers in Norway, but it's true, too. A leaf of lettuce or a slice of tomato is not a casual thing in a country that needs to import most of its produce and where local produce is often greenhouse-based.
Ironically, REMA 1000, featured in one of the videos, is popular in Denmark exactly because you can buy fresh produce in tiny amounts. For students and pensioners it's great that you can buy one carrot or one potato (we don't get the half cucumbers here). And since in some ways, we have the same puritan attitude to other foodstuffs, it works fine. Who needs 100's of cereals when all you eat for breakfast is oatmeal?
posted by mumimor at 1:30 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


After watching many Steve1989MREInfo videos, I've noticed a theme of biscuits/crackers with meat pate (or cheese or nut butter) for rations that has held true for many decades and many countries. They make a nice lunch. Sweet biscuits, salty crackers and spreads ranging from sweetened condensed milk to Marmite.
posted by Bee'sWing at 2:19 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


I didn’t see anyone toting matpakke around during my Norwegian vacation, but then I was in Bergen and we were all busy keeping our heads down in the rain and avoiding each other’s glances... ;)

No, but this does explain the paper rolls I found in one of the cabinets at my airBNB. So there’s a mystery solved!

I carried snack sandwich crackers in my raincoat pockets that week - crispbread layered with soft brunost, the Wasa equivalent to Tom’s cheese crackers with peanut butter. I desperately wish I could get them here, they were an excellent snack to have on hand, and I love brunost. It’s GREAT on hot waffles.
posted by angeline at 2:34 PM on March 1


I gave a side-eye to brunost above, but I appreciate its charms. It's tasty but decidedly sweet for a cheese, due, I assume, to the concentrated and slightly caramelized lactose. I just have a thing about pasty/sticky cheese. Anyway, the Swiss produce a cheese that is about exactly opposite of brunost from the very same whey: schabziger (aka. sapsago). It also challenges your usual assumptions about cheese.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:07 PM on March 1


When I was in Norway I ate a lot of salmon because getting it in a restaurant there is about as expensive as getting it in a restaurant in the US and everything else was twice as expensive and meat in restaurants 4 times as expensive as it is here. And it was always cooked perfectly. I also love salmon, so...

I guess what I'm saying is if you like fish, Norway is pretty great, culinarily.
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:53 PM on March 1


I would like to take this opportunity to post this food-related picture I took in Norway.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:37 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


For myself, I have the sense that it is rude to ask someone questions about their culture unless a) you have a friendly relationship with them, more than acquaintanceship, or b) they have put themselves forward as being willing to discuss and share that culture.

That's kinda the thing, y'know? There's a difference between "is willing to talk at length about aspects of their culture, that they bring up and want to talk about" and "is interested in serving as impromptu cultural ambassador and educator about every weird video you found that mentions their country".

oooh hey I found this video about matpakke, and how Norwegians just don't look forward to their lunches at all, the guy in it was putting on this weird affectation where he was just super down about the whole thing and how if you do literally anything to make it more palatable then it's not Norwegian, here watch this link and then justify it all to me and comment about your own experience I demand that you and your culture be my entertainment for the next hour

It's a massive imposition and just not a good look?
posted by kafziel at 10:17 PM on March 1


Chrysostom, Dr. Oetker is a German brand so those can be found there as well.
posted by Harald74 at 10:39 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


This looks depressing as hell at first glance but I'm glad to see it. After decades of working from home, I'm commuting to downtown. I had this idea that a packed lunch needed to be a glass tub full of leftovers.This would allow me to indulge my afternoon pastry urges.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:19 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


While very tongue in cheek, I do recognise my own upbringing and school lunch tendencies in this (mostly, I guess from the family not being particularly well-off).

My favourites growing up were:

- The mackerel in tomato sauce: the moisture meant that the entire matpakke would become a sodden mess by the time I ate it, but I loved the flavour. Being canned mackerel, your breath will be more deathlike than normal for the rest of the day. Worth it in primary school.
- Brown cheese: I used to love this in combination with raspberry jam (try it!), but again, the moisture level meant you had a sodden mess topped by a layer of exquisitely sweaty cheese, so the entire thing took on the qualities of a particularly questionable piece of cake.
- "Servelat": A processed meat closest in texture and aroma to a low grade mortadella – but very cheap. This is normally used interchangeably with "kokt skinke" (literally boiled ham), which is not very far from thinly sliced spam.
- Leverpostei / Liver paté: I would eat this out of the tin as a kid, but only the top, oxidised layer. Couldn't tell you why.

The cheese in Norway (the new wave of artisanal cheese notwithstanding) is generally unexciting, but I do take exception to Norvegia being particularly bad. If anything, it actually has character compared to the rest of the field. I buy a packet every now and then here in Melbourne, and do enjoy it on wasa bread.

In fact, I regularly enjoy wasa bread with cucumber and a slice of relatively boring cheese as a work lunch to this day.
posted by flippant at 2:58 AM on March 2


Being canned mackerel, your breath will be more deathlike than normal for the rest of the day. Worth it in primary school. A mum I once knew always put a piece of spearmint gum in the madpakke if there was mackerel. Genius!
posted by mumimor at 6:50 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


Footnote: A lot of Norwegians enjoy calling that can of mackerel "flykræsj," or "plane crash," because, well, it's a sealed metal container full of what amounts to a bloody, gory scene. We're a light-hearted bunch!
posted by edlundart at 1:18 AM on March 3 [3 favorites]


I can't imagine gjetost being controversial. More for me!

Also I like that creamed salted roe from Ikea, and Wasa, and the really heavy rye bread.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:35 PM on March 4


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