Food in Northern Troms
The food traditions in Northern Troms are influenced by three cultures that have melted together; Sami, Kven and Norwegian. The seamen were resident, living off fish and small farming. The culture is also influenced by Sami nomads who lived here in the summer.
Everyone was more or less self-sufficient with a small small farm, which gave meat, milk and potatoes. In addition, it was harvested from nature, with berries, rhubarb and herbs.
The fish was a necessity for the fjord people in North Troms, whether it was fresh, book, or dry. It provided food on the table, it was used for trade in goods that could not be obtained, and it later gave money to households.
The cod was the most important fish, and most were hung for sale as stock fish.
The fish was best when it was fresh, and then the family could gather for a meal in the middle of the night.
Fresh fish were often cooked in layers of liver and a piece of salted kobbe or speck from porpoise. Everything was cooked in the same pot, also with the potato when it became common around 1880-90.
Previously, sour fish was also a common food, and was cooked as a replacement for fresh fish. The fish was dug down in the tang, so that it soured – lámesguolli. In the winter the fish soured under the snow.
The fish was otherwise salted or smoked. Stock fish was everyday food, and it was often dipped in codliver oil before it was eaten. Roe cakes and soup with cod roe dumplings were made of fish roe.
Meat and tripe
Also the meat was salted, dried or smoked. Fresh meat was only used during slaughter period. Meat soup was feast food. The reindeer meat was tried to be held fresh, and this went well in the frost season.
Most of the tripe was useful. The intestines were used for blood sausages and tribe sausages. Lungs and kidneys were salted and hung, and used in soups. Heart and tongue were salted, hung or pressed, and used on bread. The liver was fried or boiled in brown sauce. Sheep heads, calf heads and cow heads were cooked and eaten with flat bread. The sheep heads were also salted, dried and used for Christmas food.
Baking and berries
The pomor trade meant that Northern Troms had flour. Flour was exchanged with fish. The women and the children stood for the baking. For the most part, flat bread was baked in large quantities at a time. Water cakes and milk cakes were widely used in Lyngen.
Lefser was baked in many varieties. Secret recipes went from mother to daughter.
Later the baling with yeast took over, and bread dough was poured into big tarts and up to 20 breads were made at a time.
Berries like cranberries, blueberries, lingonberry, raspberries and cloudberries were use for juice, jams and desserts.
Milk and food from milk
Both cow and sheep were milked and milk was used to make butter, cheese and gomme. Both fresh and sour milk was used, and especially sour milk. It was filled in barrels and stood until it got sour. In sour milk, cranberries or crowberries could also be added.
Meals were often breakfast, dinner and supper.
Breakfast consisted mostly of whole wheat bread or flatbread. Meat roll, salted pollock or redfish, brown cheese, butter, gomme, jam and syrup were common as toppings. Soup was also used as breakfast. This was made from barley flour or oatmeal. Sometimes bites from meat or cod were added in to the soup.
Dinner was hot food, mostly from fish and potatoes or meat soup. The soup could be added vegetables, such as carrot, onions and potatoes, an also grits.
The evening meal often consisted of cold boiled fish or fried with potatoes and onions. Soup and porridge could also be supper, with barley or rye flour, and in some cases oatmeal.
Meat soup and stew was a regular sunday dinner. Later there was also pork and stew and sausages on the menu.
Sjøsamene er glad i kaffe, og de drikker altfor meget og altfor ofte, både voksne og barn. De maler kaffen på en kværn, men hvis de ikke har kværn, bruker de en glasskavl eller en rund stein. Malet kaffe oppbevares i blære. Det er en urinblære som de har tørket og gnidd myk med mel. Når de skulle koke kaffe, blandet de kaffen med mange erter og korn, og kaffen ble ofte bitter. Nogen bruker meget salt i kaffen. Den skal jo ikke være vassen, sier de. I mangel på kaffe brukte sjøsamene i Kvænangen før i tiden ”trækaffe” (muorragafe). De samlet enslags sopp som finnes på gamle bjerkestammer. Jeg husker at da jeg var barn, kom min far en gang fra skogen og hadde ”trækaffe” med. Mor kokte den, men vi syntes ikke at den var drikkendes.
Fra Anders Larsen Om sjøsamene (1950)
Kilder og aktuelle lenker
Heftet Mat og tradisjoner i Nord-Troms, 1997
Heftet Sjøsamisk levesett i gamle Lyngen, 2004