Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sheep head party!

The friends I made last summer.

Last summer, my aunt, uncle and I went for a four day hike in the Norwegian mountains. We saw almost no people but we saw hundreds of sheep. They were so cute, and I sort of fell in love with them. Norwegian sheep are pretty lucky, they get to roam around the pretty mountains all summer before their shepard collects them up and....slaughters them. Anyway I didn't think I was going to be eating one of their adorable heads, but this weekend I did.

My aunt told me that I couldn't go a year in Norway and not attend a sheep head party. Despite my soft spot for those cute little sheepies, I agreed. So she rang around to all the butchers in her city. All of them had sold out. It wasn't that they didn't normally have them, which is what I would have assumed. It was that so many people were demanding sheep heads for dinner that all the butchers had sold out! Who said the vikings were dead! Finally she found a butcher who was able to send five sheep heads 300km in the mail. Seriously, she just causally went down to the post office and picked up her package of sheep heads. Totally normal.

This is how they are prepared:
The hair on the sheep heads is burnt off, then they are smoked, salted and hung up to dry. The day before the sheep heads party they need to soak in cold water to get rid of some of salt. Then they are boiled in a cauldron sized pot for two hours and served up with boiled potatoes and mashed swedes. Plenty of beer and a rocket fuel strength Norwegian spirit known as aquavit is essential. They help guests to loosen up and get over the fact that they are eating the head of a sweet little sheep.

This is how you eat a sheep head:
All the guests at the party were quite excited to dig in. First you rip off the jaw, then you remove the skin off the cheeks and make your way up to the eyeballs. Yes, you then eat the eyeball and the tongue. The meat was actually delicious, just psychologically scaring to look at. Thats were all the alcohol comes in handy.

I think this is a great tradition, a real celebration of food and where it comes from. Eating meat from animals you know have had a good life, and not letting them go to waste. Dare I say it, I would do it again. Tusen takk til Åse og Ketil for en kjempe awesome helg!

24 hour soak.

Viking cooks.

Yummy tongues.

Dinner is served!

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