Rarely do diplomats or embassy staffers get to say out loud what they really think.
In a refreshingly authentic video just posted yesterday, staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Oslo take a stab, so to speak, at traditional Norwegian Christmas dishes. Eight dishes and one shot of akvavit, to be precise. Reactions to some of the more exotic offerings are … well, let’s just say they’re not very diplomatic. But they are entertaining, to say the least. So entertaining, the Youtube video has racked up more than 160k views in just a few hours.
Alicia the store manager is the staffer who deserves her own reality show. As she prods a plate of rakfisk, she’s goes from being mildly interested to repulsed in about a second. “Ohhhh, what is that!?” she exclaims, only to add, “Yuk.” And you have to wonder how Alicia is staying alive in Norway because she ain’t findin’ a lot to like.
Smalahovj is the big hit. Alicia literally gets up and runs when she sees the little sheep head, all cooked to a golden brown. Kevin, the regional security officer, is the guy who’ll eat anything. He looks down at the unfortunate animal and says, “You look so sad. But you’re dead.” A braver colleague actually digs in and pronounces it really good.
Norwegian food is what it is, and it’s mostly some form of odoriferous herring, cod or salmon. Which is not everyone’s cup of tea. And clearly, this embassy staff doesn’t get out much because they seemed never to have tried tasty, if aromatic, local standards such as rakfisk, or fermented fish. That said, ribbe, or smoked ribs, is a huge hit with everyone.
Jim, the charge d’affaires, is the model of diplomacy when he gets to the lutefisk, which is whitefish that’s been cured in lye. Jim smiles, goes for the chunk of pork garnish and says, “The bacon is good ….”
Just for reference, here is what’s for Christmas in Norway:
Kabaret is an aspic that includes fish, veggies such as peas and carrots, and eggs.
Pinnekjøtt is made from the ribs of lamb or mutton that has been salted and dried, and has a very strong flavor.
Raspeball is a potato dumpling.
Sennepssild is mustard herring.
Akvavit is a clear liquor flavored with caraway or dill.