Norwegians, Easter, cabins and crime literature belong together like horse and carriage – a tradition that started over 90 years ago. Here you can find out how to celebrate a typical Norwegian Easter.
First: Ensure that you have skis – either bought or borrowed. Also, make sure you have ski wax even if you are not sure how to use it. There is always someone along the tracks that can help a ‘forlorn wretch’.
When it comes to clothing it is important that it has red color, preferably with a home knitted wool sweater that smells of last year’s bonfire.
But wait a minute. If you do not know it already: Norwegians love skiing, especially at Easter, and many go several miles to their cabins where to spend the vacation. Surprisingly many people ski into a different era where outdoor toilet, drafty cabins and totally deserted landscape are considered paradise.
Anyhow, in their backpacks they have wool shirts and wool pants, oranges, sausages, bag-in-box wine, lot of candy, a giant Easter crime novel, and a juicy leg of lamb. The Easter decorations stays put year round inside the cabin.
Arrival: The skiing Norwegians are sweating and freezing at the same time, and it does not help that the cabin is snowed in. After a few hours of shoveling and finally reaching the front door they run to the fireplace to light up.
Their stomachs are screaming for food, but they can just forget the lamb’s leg. They will eat food from old forgotten canned goods, and leave the dishes because no one has enough strength to go get water three miles away. As the indoor temperature reaches an acceptable level it is time to go to bed. They organize night guards who will watch the fire through the night.
The days are spent indoors in front of the fireplace. Kind Norwegians let their skis relax before the return. When ‘duty calls’, they put on several old wool sweaters and run outside. The intensity of the Easter crime novel may help to determine the frequency of outdoor visits.
Because, if you take the Easter crime from an average Norwegian, you take the ‘joie de vivre’ from him at the same time (freely interpreted from Ibsen’s “The Wild Duck”). The story of Easter crime tradition started in 1923 through a creative campaign in a national newspaper. A publisher at Gyldendal Publishing House was in charge of launching a new crime novel and wanted to promote the book through new and creative market channels. The ad, which looked like a normal news bulletin, got the headline ‘The Bergen Train Robbed Last Night.’
The text advertised for a new crime novel by Nordahl Grieg and Nils Lie. The book became very popular and it was obvious that people liked the idea of ‘Easter-Crime’. The following year, Aschehoug Publishing House continued to focus on the new genre phenomena. Since then, Easter has been the peak season for crime literature.
Fortunately, the happy Norwegians have time to read ‘Easter crime’ while the leg of lamb roasts in the oven. Because leg of lamb is Easter food number one. The Norwegians drink wine and eat good food – while bracing up for the loooong trip back home.
Classic Roasted Leg of Lamb with Silky Celeriac Puree:
1 leg of lamb (ca 2 kg)
1 small bunch of fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves
2 roots of celery
200 g butter
1 kg potatoes
4 dl red wine
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Make small pockets in the leg of lamb. Cut the garlic into slices. Push the slices into the pockets. Do the same with rosemary. Insert a meat thermometer in the middle of the thigh. Put it in the oven at 180 degrees in a roasting pan.
Take out the leg when it reaches 65 degrees. Wait until the meat has reached 60 degrees before carving.
Clean the celery root, cut into chunks and boil them until tender in salted water with one potato. Drain the water and mash it with a blender. Add 150 grams of butter, then season with salt and pepper.
Cut the potatoes into slices and put them in a casserole dish. Cut one garlic in half, and place the cloves with the potatoes. Add rosemary, oil (ca 1 dl), salt and pepper. Place it in the oven along with the leg of lamb.
It is finished about the same time, but check occasionally.
Red Wine Sauce: Boil red wine with sugar until half. Dissolve the cornstarch in a few tablespoons of water. Add to the sauce and stir. Add broth from the leg of lamb. Whip in 50 grams of butter and season with salt and pepper.
Slice the meat and serve with potatoes, celeriac puree and red wine sauce.
Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews
Recipe by: Klikk.no
Photos from top: The Fieldfare Cabin: Ut.no Skiers: Trøndelag.no Book cover, Leg of lamb: Dagbladet