Most countries have some strange dishes of food; Scotland has Haggis, Iceland has Hákarl, Japan has Shiokara and in Norway, we have Smalahove.
Norway has a rich history when it comes to sheep.
Norwegian farmers have been rearing sheep since way back when - they have been and are still being used as a source of food and clothing.
This weekend the food side of them is being celebrated; right here in Voss.
The center of town is normally quiet around this time, but every year Smalahovesleppet brings the folks in Voss, out to town.
Smalahove means sheep head and that is exactly what you get during this festive meal. Served together with mashed Rutabaga, boiled potatoes, and Akevitt. The Akevitt just makes sure you'll have some good stories to tell afterward.
Smalahove is rooted in the western region of Norway and comes from a time when one sought out ways to prepare as much of the animal as possible, and get as much as you could for the family. Nowadays this is no longer a necessity. Still, the history and traditions are being kept alive as part of our culture in Voss. The head is smoked and salted for preservation, then steamed for hours to tenderize the meat and reduce some of the salt content.
What used to be a very modest dish, is now considered a delicacy. As the only large-scale approved manufacturer of Smalahove, Voss is well known for the dish.
A quick google search and you will find Smalahove listed on numerous articles about strange food. TV programs filmed in Voss always make sure that this traditional dish is a part of their show, with shocked attendees looking down on their plate in disbelief as to what they are about to eat. Not the best looking plate, in other words - however most say the flavour makes up for it.
So in honor of the sheep head, feeding the farmers back in the day, and now bringing relatives and friends together for an autumn celebration, Voss Sentrum has a program for little ones and adults alike. Every day, from today until Sunday, there will be something for everyone (whether or not you will dare to get near the dish). Shows for children, Treasure hunting, Market day, Fashion show ( we'll be there ) from local shops, beer tasting, and of course The Smalahove dinner.
Have a nice autumn everyone!
Artwork: Stine Eide
Photos: Virre Dahl