16 October 2010

Tubes of Food

Processed cheese in tubes (bacon, ham, sun-dried tomatoes, pepperoni, jalapeno, salami, and prawn)
If you've ever been to a supermarket in Scandinavia you can't help noticing row upon neat row of metallic tubes. This is actually food. In tubes. As a 10-year-old boy I would have found this monumentally exciting; the staple nourishment of any Mars-bound astronaut should, of course, be served from a tube. Yet somehow I feel that no self-respecting adult should ever eat food from a tube. Unless, of course, you actually are an astronaut, in which case take me with you please, I'll bring the tubed food.

Here in Norway, the shops stock a wide variety of tubes. Much of their contents look, and probably taste, like over-processed excreta. However, kids seem to adore the stuff, and the two little Nibbler girls are no exception, so we always seem to have some random tubes of gunk lurking in the fridge at home.

Here are some more tubes for you to peruse:
There is one exception to my 'no tube' rule, however, and that is kaviar. Of this, I cannot get enough. Norwegian and Swedish tubes of kaviar are national institutions, and Scandinavians have been known to take the stuff on holiday with them. Kaviar is a paste consisting mainly of lightly smoked cod roe that has a salty/sweet/fishy taste and a lurid pink/orange colour. Sounds revolting, but it is utterly delicious.

Kaviar can be eaten at anytime, although it is typically consumed for breakfast or lunch on slices of knekkebrød (crisp bread), with perhaps some slices of boiled egg. Most people never spread kaviar with a knife; they just squeeze it straight from the tube and make satisfying arcs of pink goodness on pieces of crisp bread.
The main ingredients are smoked, salted cod roe; oil; sugar; and potato flakes. Although quite fatty, it is packed full of omega-3 goodness.

In Norway the most popular brand of kaviar is Mills, although Stabburet tried to muscle in on this lucrative market a few years ago. The two brands are currently slugging it out for market share and each has attracted its own band of loyal followers (think of it as Norway's Pepsi/Coke battle, but on a much, much, much, much smaller scale). The newspapers here even speak of a bitter "kaviar war". Stern stuff indeed. There is also the Kavli brand of kaviar, but I have yet to meet anyone that eats it.

In Sweden, they swear by Kalles kaviar, and the Danes, who are not as fanatical about kaviar, have to make do with imports from their more committed Scandinavian neighbours. There's much debate about who makes the finest kaviar, but let's just say that Norway's Mills is the best. This is an actual fact.

If you have a craving for kaviar, and you're not in Scandinavia, I am informed that the ubiquitous IKEA stock tubes of Swedish Kalles. But be warned, it can be quite addictive.

5 comments:

  1. Oh yes, highly addictive stuff!!! http://www.elusivemoose.eu/2010/05/04/ ;-)

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  2. That's so funny they wouldn't let you take it on the plane. A bit harsh though, especially at a Norwegian airport!

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  3. From one Brit out here in Norway, I suggest the following: pipe Mills kaviar onto blocks of Japanese sushi rice for an instant "kaviar nigiri", avocado is optional and you don't need the 20 year sushi training beforehand. Enjoy!

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  4. I do love the stuff, but I sure wish they'd remove the artificial color. Kalles Kaviar did.

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  5. You wouldn't think so but it is very delicious. It's not the caviar alone but the mix of other ingredients.

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