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!