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Norwegian Treats!

I went into these two weeks knowing that my sugar and carb intake was going to skyrocket. Ice cream, pastries, candy, bread… it’s all part of the Norwegian experience. I decided that I can afford a food bender once every two years, and I made sure to properly document it.

Ice Cream

It’s no secret that I am a bit ice cream crazy– but when in Norway, this amplifies. There’s nothing quite like Norwegian ice cream– my favorite: soft-is. It’s like soft-serve ice cream, but so much tastier. Think of your favorite custard, imagine it being 10x better, and that is soft-is. And what makes soft-is complete? The toppings. My favorite topping is the chocolate– it tastes like a sweet cocoa powder. When I want a bit of a mix, I usually pick half Oreo half chocolate. Besides from soft-is, there is småis, which include a variety of packaged ice creams. My personal favorite is the krone-is which is comparable to a drumstick ice cream cone. And lastly, my trip to Norway wouldn’t be complete without trying one båtis (boat ice cream.) This was my go-to daily ice cream during my first 1-month trip to Norway as a 4 year old. I have to admit, I remember it tasting better as a kid.

Pastries

There are a lot of buns and pastries in Norway, but my favorite is Skoleboller or Skolebrød (school bun/bread.) This pastry has a custard center and coconut icing topping. It’s by far my favorite Norwegian sweet. Most skoleboller are great, but nothing beats homemade. I am still left craving the buns we made in Lofoten, and most of all, Grandma’s homemade skoleboller. The other pastry I had on this trip was a solboller, or sun bun. This is similar to the school bun but without the coconut topping.

Pålegg/ On-Bread

In Norway, there’s a term ” pålegg” which refers to all types of things that can go on bread. This term is used often, because Norwegians eat a lot of bread. Ole Magnus helped coined the english version of this concept as “on-bread.” I had a lot of bread, with a variety of on-bread during this trip. Kayla and Brandi made a fresh bruschetta which was a perfect evening patio snack. Grandma and Grandpa bought shrimp for a shrimp feast one evening which is by far my favorite on-bread. (Yes, I lucked out and got two shrimp feasts!)

Drinks

Although not documented as well– I tried a fair amount of delicious beer, wine, and spirits. Brandi, Kayla, and I did a local IPA and Sour beer tasting in Trondheim. Ole Jørgen brought over his Bareksten Botanical Gin which is the first gin I have ever enjoyed. We sipped on gin and tonics until we went to a great natural wine bar, Spontan Vinbar. We shared two different (both fantastic) bottles of rosé. And I must mention Ole Magnus’s home brewed beer in Hønefoss. He had a British bitter, a Boston Lager, and a Chili Stout– all three were great! They even got Grandpa’s seal of approval– which is a big deal. Beyond alcohol, I had lots of coffee. I enjoyed cappuccinos, chili-mochas, espresso, and lots of black coffee.

Fire-Foods

It wouldn’t be a trip to Norway without cooking over fire at least once. This time, we made both pizza and chocolate-stuffed bananas. The pizza was great– especially because of the company of many great friends. (More on this later). I realize the picture of the banana is blurry, but it needed to be included. This is one of my fire favorites, and Vigdis was nice enough to bring them along for our fire.

Etc.

There are a few things out there that are distinctly Norwegian. The first, pictured below in the bowl, is rømmegrøt. This is a smooth but thick porridge made from sour cream, milk, flour, and butter. It’s not one of my favorite Norwegian dishes, but it’s sooo Norwegian. If you load it up with a dollop of butter, a hefty amount of cinnamon, and enough sugar, it becomes simply a vessel for sweet goodness.

Although I don’t care for hotdogs, I make sure to get a few øst-pølser each trip. These are delicious cheese-filled “sausages” that put shame to hotdogs. Even the mustard– a condiment I don’t usually like– is different, and makes the pølser experience perfect.

Norway has a lot of candy, but over the years I’ve focused my interest down to one type: Black Licorice. I made plenty of stops to the bulk candy section of grocery store to load up my paper bag with licorice spirals.

And lastly, there’s lefsegodt. Lefse is a potato flatbread, and lefsegodt is this flatbread layered with butter, sugar, and sometimes cinnamon. How can you go wrong with that? It’s even better enjoyed with a view at the end of a hike!

Overall, this trip was full of great food, most of which was enjoyed outside under the sun. I had just about enough of my favorites to tie me over until next time.

 

India Phase 2B: The Upadhyaya Homecoming

We woke up the next morning and walked through the alleys of Azamgarh to make it back to the family’s house. We ate great pakora and drank hot chai before setting out on our adventure to the village.

The historic walk to Haathia ran through the streets of the city before hitting the bridge. This car bridge was new– when my father grew up in the village there was only a rickety walking bridge that often got washed out by the high waters.

Once we entered the village, everything was quieter and greener. The paved car bridge quickly turned into a dirt path which zigzagged in what seemed like a nonsensical pattern. We followed our cousins’ lead through the village towards the family home.

The family house has been in the family for over 60 years. It is the birthplace of not only my dad, but most of his relatives. Chinki (who is around 30yo) was the last one to be born in the Haathia house. As you can see in the photos below, the house oozes history.

After walking through the house, we walked over to our family’s patch of Guava trees. Although the tree patch wasn’t far, we paraded at a slow pace through the village. The fruit was hardly ripe, but both Dad and Lars tried the Guava. They found it too tough and bitter– but that didn’t stop our cousins who ate nearly the whole fruit, down to the stem.

We eventually made our way back to the family house, took a few last photos, and headed back to Azamgarh.

India Phase 2A: The Upadhyaya Homecoming

Many people do not know that my father, Alok, was born and raised in a small village in the Uttar Pradesh region of India. His village, Haathia, is across the Tamsa River, on the outskirts of Azamgarh city.

From Agra, we travelled to Varanasi– one step closer to my family’s hometown. [Varanasi sits on the Ganges River and is known in India as the Holy city.]

As I began to feel better I started to further appreciate the smells, tastes, and feels of Northern India. The air quality in the rural areas was not better, but it was easier for me to handle. Dust and dirt levels were higher, while car exhaust and burning plastic fumes were lower.

Dad’s Hindi was truly put to the test when he was coordinating our travels to his home town. After many phone calls back and forth, he concluded that his two cousins were driving to Varanasi to pick us up at 7am. We questioned why they were leaving Azamgarh (which was about 4 hours away) so early, but Dad told us not to worry. After waking up early enough to get ready and pack up our bags, my dad told us that he had misunderstood. The cousins were planning on leaving Azamgarh at 7am. This meant they wouldn’t get to Varanasi until 11 (at the earliest).

Alok’s cousins, Praveen, (also known as Hinay), and Keso, (also known as Bara Bhai, Big Brother), arrived shortly after noon. We loaded up the two cars and started our adventure towards Azamgarh. The drive was crazy. Some roads were no wider than the car’s axle, which wouldn’t have been a problem if it were not for the sharp turns and oncoming cars, cows, and bicycles. We stopped for a (much needed) break with steaming roadside chai and pakori.

We arrived at the family’s house and were greeted by Parinda with burning incense and ghee. My father was reunited with his aunt, (who is like a second mother to him), after nearly 30 years.

We all huddled closely to the table, with the rest of the family standing around our chairs, and listened to Amma tell stories.

The youngest generation of women stayed in the kitchen in order to prepare us a delicious snack of Ghughri. Amma asked Alok if he liked the Ghughri. He responded yes and told Ama that he liked the potatoes– probably because he couldn’t remember the Hindi word for green pees. She then proceeded to pick out the potatoes from the extra cup and give them to Dad. The women insisted on washing our feet, which is a tremendous sign of respect in Indian culture.

The rest of the time with family was a blur of posing for photos and communicating through a thick language barrier. Everywhere I turned, there was a flashing camera– documenting this historical reunion and first-time meeting of family members from across the globe.

We went up to the roof during sunset and watched flickering kites backdropped by a killer sunset. Once the sun set we went to the local temple with my dad’s cousin, Urchena, and her daughter Priti.

After the temple we spent some time at the other Azamgarh house. Cousin Chinki did beautiful henna for Kayla, mom, and I. We returned to the first house and were served a delicious dinner prepared by the women. We were served along Amma, however the rest of the family just gathered and watched as we ate. They refused to eat while we were eating– they made sure our well being was prioritized.

Insta-Tuesdays

Every few Tuesdays I’m going to share some instagram photos with you guys, just in case you missed them!

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