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Bread. I like it.

I LOVE bread. I could live on only bread, I am pretty sure. Bread by itself, bread with stuff on it, bread as a side – it is all good. In Norway, we eat A LOT of bread. A normal breakfast in Norway would be two slices of bread, with cheese or jam or maybe some salami. Lunch would be, well, pretty much the same. Two or three slices or bread (or “open faced sandwiches” as Americans call them), with ham, cheese (maybe the famous Norwegian brown goat cheese), or some other topping, all wrapped in paper or in a little sandwich box. Nowadays, more offices have cafeterias, but they often serve variations on these sandwiches as well. In general, people who are not Norwegian do not appreciate the Norwegian lunch! Even our closest neighbours, the Swedes, eat a warm lunch.

Anyway, back to the bread. Since bread is such an important staple, we take bread very seriously. I will NEVER eat Wonderbread or any bread like that. Norwegians often bake their own bread and when I was in daycare and preschool, we would bake bread every Wednesday. The adults would bake the bread for the whole school, while we would help with making rolls – and then we would get a piece of dough to make whatever we wanted! It was definitely my favorite time of the week and I thought my little bread (often in strange shapes) was the best bread in the world!

(Interesting anecdote: we were only allowed to have white bread on Saturdays… The rest of the week it was whole grains all the way. Better for you, and it keeps you fuller. This brings me to another anecdote that my American friends find very funny: Candy is only for Saturday at 6pm, when the children’s programming comes on – on the state TV channel… Seriously, I was only allowed a small bag of candy each Saturday, and none the rest of the week. Oh, and we do have more channels now, but kids still watch the kids’ shows at 6pm every day.)

I learned how to bake bread when I was 12, in one of my favorite classes at school: “School Kitchen”, or Home Economics in the US (and I got a top grade for my bread baking skills!) It really is not that hard, and it certainly is cheap. I don’t know why, but I find that many Americans are scared of baking bread. That is why recipes like the “No Knead Bread” are so great, because they show that baking is actually easy. I have found, however, that the electric ovens we have in Norway make it easy to get an even temperature, something I have found to be difficult in other countries, especially in gas ovens. (Then again, I totally prefer gas ovens for cooking!)

So why I am writing this? Because I am finally making the No Knead Bread, Take Two, which pretty much all the Slow Travelers have tried. It is in the oven as I write. I hope it comes out good!

Comments (6)

Great entry! Please tell me more about the brown goat cheese - I love that stuff but don't think I've ever heard of that kind.

And I love the Saturday 6 pm candy tradition. I'm going to tell my brother about that for my nephews (it's a struggle to control junk food/sweets since the boys love it so much - I think having it be a once-a-week treat makes a lot of sense).

Hi Chiocciola - I enjoyed reading about your Norwegian traditions! I also LOVE bread ... I think I could easily be a vegetarian who doesn't eat vegetables, but lives on starches alone! Sigh ... but that wouldn't be very healthy. :(
I'm looking forward to experimenting with that bread recipe ... if home baked bread is good, home baked bread with extra 'stuff' in it is better, right? ;)

Colleen

sandrac:

I'm also very intrigued by the brown goat cheese....I think that that would make a very interesting blog entry!!!!

Your home ec. class sounds far superior to the one I was forced to take for several years in rural Alberta. Learning to bake bread would have been far more practical (and interesting!) than our endless classes spent learning to make blanc mange (which I have never done outside that classroom!) and how to section half a grapefruit, after it has been sprinkled with coconut and grilled. Why, oh why did we waste so much time on such pointless matters????

Girls, you inspired me to write a blog post about the cheese. Enjoy!

Sandra, home ec in Norwasy was great! We had it for two years and it was very practical; we had a kitchen with maybe five small kitchens in it, so that 2 or 3 kids would work together in a station. I loved that they taught us the basics of cooking, as well as how to run a kitchen, if you will - what you need, how to do dishes properly. I still use the "dish washing rules" that I learned back then.

I think you should also do a blog post on proper "dish washing rules".

I hated Wonder bread. I remember squishing it all up in my hands when I was little. The best part of Wonder bread where the bags - we wore them over our socks and under out boots in the winter to go sledding since back then we didn't have very good waterproof boots.

My mom *never* bought white bread, we only had wheat at our house. But my auntie bought Wonder bread! That was such a treat for us. :) My cousins and I would peel off the crust, roll up the airy bread into a tight ball with our grubby little hands, and bite into a 'bread ball.' Ah, memories. ;)

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