top of page

Eat: squishy fishy (or Norwegian fermented fish); the rakfisk festival

Renowned chef Gordon Ramsay couldn't quite appreciate it, but as everyone knows, his understanding of fine cuisine is utterly lacking. I'm, of course, referring to rakfisk. Allow me to provide a brief explanation of what Rakfisk truly entails. Put simply, Norwegian rakfisk is fermented trout. The fish is thoroughly salted and arranged in a plastic container, with a blend of salt and sugar sprinkled between each layer of fish. After a few days of refrigeration in an airtight container, the fish becomes pickled. And of course there's a variety of sorts.

A fish in a Norwegian lake

It carries a scent, well, reminiscent of fish, though nowhere near as potent as the Swedish surströmming. Yet, in Norway, it is held in high esteem as an outright delicacy. Such is its reputation that an annual rakfisk festival is organized each November. Fagernes, a locale with just under 2000 inhabitants, transforms entirely for this occasion. Various stages host an eclectic array of musical acts, a grand market tempts with the finest local treats to savor and purchase, and naturally, one can sample an array of rakfisk variations. There's no doubt that this is a genuine celebration of the people.

I attended for the first time last year and was particularly taken by the overall ambiance. The streets were awash with a sea of brightly colored raincoats, for in November, a cloudless sky is far from assured. The scent of wood fires permeates many corners, bestowing a uniquely snug feeling to the affair. A series of vast tents are erected, offering the chance to sample rakfisk from various producers. Naturally, one of the days culminates in the crowning of a victor. And the party continues with music and banter during the evenings.

Even if fish isn't entirely your preference, a visit to the festival comes highly recommended. Not only for the splendid atmosphere but also for the rare insight it provides into Norwegian culture and customs. It really is jolly good fun!

For accommodation, one location truly stands head and shoulders above the rest. Danebu Kongsgaard - Boutique Hotel. As the name implies, you'll slumber in utmost comfort here. A bed of roses, high up on a ridge not too far away from Fagernes. Do ensure you secure your reservation promptly, for the influx of fish aficionados is substantial. **Getting there: it is most likely you'll come from Oslo. Public transport runs, but not frequent, so it is most wise to reserve a car in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you back to Danebu Kongsgaard when you've had your share of fish. Also know that taxi's are very, very occupied during those days. Check here for availability.


bottom of page