Norwegian Cuisine cannot be the Worst in the World, right?

A Frog in the Fjord: One Year in Norway Book

TasteAtlas Awards 2022 ranked 95 countries from best to worst cuisine. Surprise surprise, Norway makes last spot, therefore becoming the worst cuisine in the world according to TasteAtlas. Is it really that bad?

Who did Norway lose against?

Let’s look at something else first. Which cuisines did Norway lose against? Where is for example ranked Danish cuisine in this survey, which is I think really bad. I used to live there and I can tell you the New nordic Cuisine from the glossy magazines is no where to be seen in Danish peoples’ fridges and kitchens. Danish food is quite similar to what we eat in Norway: cheap sausages, open sandwiches, pickled herring and so on. Sure, they have better bread than Norway and more choice in supermarkets, but still, do they really deserve to be ranked 35th best cuisine in the world out of 95? SERIOUSLY?

Norwegian cuisine is also ranked worse than Australian cuisine, which has as their best food “Tim Tams”, a processed biscuit coated in chocolate.

Worst than that, who is next worse cuisine in the world just before Norwegian cuisine? Moroccan food, which is, I believe, offering absolutely amazing food and flavours. I am just completely in shock, and I am therefore wondering how seriously we should take this survey to begin with.

Norwegian food is bad but not the worse

I have written many articles about Norwegian cuisine and Norwegian food culture. My most read is where I write about Norwegian food culture for kids, in my blogpost and article in Norwegian newspaper VG Bread, candy and shrimp cheese in a tube. Why do kids in Norway get such bad food?

I have travelled to many places in Norway and ate a lot of different local food, and I can say with quite some assurance that Norway has amazing produce. The best potatoes I’ve tasted in my life, on Skåtøy, an island in Telemark. Best fish I’ve eaten, Skrei in the Lofoten islands. Great cheese and dairy, from Røros among others, amazing leg sausage from Valdres. I eat Norwegian carrots as if it was candy, it is so sweet and delicious. Norwegian cabbage is very good and very tasty, you can make anything from salads to fårikål with it (lamb and cabbage cooked in pepper for a long time). Basically I like food and I think Norway has good food.

The problem is that Norwegians don’t eat Norwegian food. They eat a lot of processed food which takes no time to cook. There is almost like an inferiority complex among Norwegians regarding their food, which they can feel isn’t as good as other cuisines like Italian or even Japanese. I personally think there could be a revival of Norwegian original cuisine, with all the “husmanskost” as they call it here, where local ingredients and recipes can be used in normal kitchens. Not everyone has to like lutefisk (cod in lye) or rakfisk (highly fermented trout), but still, dishes like fårikål are quite mild.

Truth be told Norwegians themselves don’t eat lutefisk or rakfisk everyday. They’ll eat it once a year at best.

So to conclude, I do not agree with this ranking. Norwegian food is not the best in the world, but there are amazing produce and my goodness it has to be better than Australian cuisine. No offence 🙂

However TasteAtlas might have done something right when ranking the worst Norwegian food to be found. I agree with the whole list besides fårikål being there 🙂

11 thoughts on “Norwegian Cuisine cannot be the Worst in the World, right?

  1. Sorry, but that’s rubbish. I am an Australian who spends 3 months a year in Norway, and I think the food in both is excellent. If people have lousy food in their fridges, that’s their (health) problem, but at the places I stay in Norway the food is outstanding.

  2. Hi there,

    While I am not an expert in Norwegian food, I did live there for ±2 years ( and I am a food critic for what that counts for these days ) and I can honestly say, Norwegian food is good to delicious overwhelmingly – yes there are some odd dishes but find me one culture that doesn’t ?!

    So don’t fret, what does TasteAtlas know anyway.

    Keep eating the healthy, good Norwegian food you can do a hell of a lot worse…

  3. I have worked in Norway.
    And Norwegian cuisine might have its flaws. But it’s not the worse by far. I would rate Norway somewhere in the middle of all countries.
    You might consider it bad, if you are Vegan, and if you do not like fish. And if you are a fan of gravies and a variation of spices.

  4. Hmmm… the fact that “American” cuisine is ranked above French makes me really question this list. And one of my favorites, Moroccan, at second to last behind Icelandic and Canadian?? Sorry, that’s just wrong.

    1. Hahaha. French? Great topic. The once-famous French cuisine is a long-forgotten glory of the past. Today its a collection of soggy, fowlish smelling and tasting vegetables, gummy strips of meat and over-sweet pastries. Almost any cousine is better than the contemporary French. And that includes the Norwegian as well.

  5. Like this unknown TasteAtlas guide you need to sell your stuff for living. So you write a provocative title and says the opposite in content. This is a strange method. I have always eaten good in Norway though it is very expensive to eat well over there.
    One more thing, why do you hate so much Denmark ? Did you have such a bad experience living there ?

  6. Who won this competition anyway?
    I’ve lived long enough Norway to say that I don’t agree that it’s the worst food in the world here. That was a very subjective opinion of the Jury. Fish is amazing: kveite, skrei and other types of wild fish are great and tasty. I like to eat light food with good raw materials and you can definitely find them in the Norwegian grocery stores. Vegetables are not as good as further south in Europe because of the long winters, but local produce is fresh, organic and excellent during the months with a lot of sun.
    Love Norwegian knekkebrød, cheeses, hams, and lefser, lapper, vafler…
    Norway abd Norwegians are connected to their nature. The people are sporty, active and they often have their meals in the nature despite the weather, sun or snow.
    Happily living my Norwegian life here and eating quality food! 🙂

  7. Ok, I looked into what this was based on, and … I wouldn’t take it seriously.

    The TasteAtlas rankings seem to be based on average rating for foods sorted into each country’s category. For Norway, only the top 43 dishes have a rating at all. (Which means that the 10 worst dishes linked at the end of this blog post excludes unrated dishes.) I didn’t scroll more than 100 dishes down in the Italy category, but they were all rated, so Italy clearly has *more* ratings, which will usually improve the average (unless all your food is truly abysmal).

    And from best to worst there’s just a <1.2 star difference. Significant when choosing which TV to buy, but I wouldn't judge any country by this rating.

    I note that gammelost didn't make the list of worst foods despite being the lowest rated of all rated Norwegian foods. This might be because it fails at being edible, which should be a core requirement for food. D:

  8. Norwegian ingredients can be of excellent quality if you know where to look and what to look for. Not much grows here, but what does grow tastes better than just about anything else. The berries, the root vegetables, the apples and pears – quite clearly #1 in the world, no contest. The fish, if you can get it fresh north of West Cape (Stadt), the more northern and farther from the coastline the better, is also #1 in the world. A Norwegian fisherman would have thrown out of his boat anything the French and Italians calls “fish”, with yellow-brown flesh reeking of unclean waters.

    However, what we Norwegians make out of those raw materials I can readily admit being overly simplistic and unappealing in presentation.

    That’s because the only thing the French and Italian world-renown kitchens have to offer is excellent marketing. That’s what have made cooked wheat-dough and 20 calories of pretentious “artsy” food famous.

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