The northernmost regions of Norway simultaneously enchant and terrify. In winter darkness reigns over the land; in summer, the sun never sets. Vast, craggy forests of pine stretch as far as the eye can see, and high-walled, icy fjords cut into the coastline. It is a landscape that, in centuries past, bred belief in fairies and trolls, evil creatures that supposedly made their homes among the towering pines.
For the human inhabitants of this strange and sometimes hostile land, life was difficult. The steep, rocky coastline hindered the transportation of goods to the inland towns. The mountains made it impossible to harvest cereal grains and cultivate orchards. Of Norway’s 125,000 square miles of country, little more than 5,000 are arable.
But the people of northern Norway found great comfort in food. They did their best with what staples they could procure, developing an impressive repertoire of rye breads, reindeer stews and rice puddings — vigorous dishes that could provide warmth and sustenance during the cold winters. Lefse, a popular flatbread, frequently accompanied these meals. Here’s a traditional recipe for lefse from RecipeZaar:
2 cups of plain mashed potatoes
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flour
In a large mixing bowl mix potatoes, milk, butter, salt and 3/4 cup of flour.
Knead briefly on lightly floured board, adding additional flour to keep the dough from sticking.
Divide dough into 12 equal balls; roll each on lightly floured board into a circle paper thin.
Lightly oil a heavy skillet or crepe pan; set over medium heat.
Cook one at a time, until lightly browned, about one minute on each side.
Stack on a plate with a paper towel in between each one.
Freeze leftovers, and thaw throughout the year and enjoy a favorite anytime.
Serve lefse with butter for savory dishes, or sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar for a breakfast treat.