I had a relaxing day with Even and Grethe. Even is a member of the Norwegian Freemasons and tomorrow he’s flying to Trondheim with the Master Mason for a meeting. We drove into the city centre to the Freemasons building, which is about 150 years old, to pick up his official ‘uniform’ for the meeting. He gave me a tour around the hallowed halls….very impressive.
When we returned, Even began preparing dinner: forikål (lamb and cabbage). It’s a very simple, traditional meal, which my mother used to make. It doesn’t have any spices other than salt and pepper, but when I make it, I add chopped garlic, rosemary, onions and carrots. The lamb and cabbage is laid into a large pot in layers, beginning with the pieces of lamb, bone-in. You can spread flour on each layer or, when the layering is finished, you can mix flour and water and pour that in. The final step is to add so that the pot is about 1/2 full. You bring the pot to a low boil and then turn it down to simmer for a couple of hours or until the lamb is falling off the bone. A flour and water mixture can be added to thicken and it’s traditionally served with boiled potatoes. Washing it down with beer or Akvavit is typical. I even had a shot!
Akvavit is a very strong liquor made from grain or potatoes, like Vodka, and is commonly flavoured with caraway. It has been produced in Scandinavia since the 15th century. When drinking Akvavit, you must shout the old Viking toast, “Skoal” or “Skaal”. You’re supposed to keep eye contact with the person you’re toasting, which also goes back to the Viking belief that you have to keep your eye on others, and potential threats, at all times. Here’s another interesting fact about Akvavit: “Denmark and Sweden consider aquavit a clear spirit, but in Norway, there’s a strong tradition of cask-aging. Norwegian aquavit matures in sherry oak casks that give the spirit a golden color and full-bodied character with hints of vanilla. Linie Aquavit is one of Norway’s most famous because of its unique aging process that was accidentally discovered in the early 19th century. Linie means “line,” as its oak barrels are loaded onto ships that cross the equator twice, supposedly enhancing the spirit’s flavor and smoothness due to the barrels’ constant rolling on the ocean and temperature fluctuations.”
So, there you go, more than you ever wanted to know about Akvavit.
Now my day is complete!