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Norwegian 101, Lesson 2

Your daily dose of random Norwegian
2. oust
Katie-ified: OW-ST
Translation: cheese

Relevance: There are a lot of things Norwegians don’t claim culinary ownership over, and with notoriously soggy pizza and a serious deficit of tofu and the like, up here they’re all about the game, fish and salt-cured cuisine. But as a salmon-hating Bostonian (oxymoron, yeah?) in this land of woodsmen and cold winters and overpriced, under-ripe produce, there is one item I very quickly embraced: brunoust, or Norwegian “brown cheese.” The stuff is freakishly dark and comes in large cubes resembling caramel, which it also happens to taste like—ridiculously rich and creamy and sweet and too good to be anything but dessert. We Americans quickly discovered this candy-like deliciousness and took to pairing brunoust with everything: bread, pasta, omelets, straight up by the hunk. It’s apparently called “gjetost” in the U.S. if you’re curious to taste it. But be warned: after a little Googling, I figured out the not-so-shocking-but-somewhat-saddening secret behind this cracked-out cheese of which the average Norwegian eats a whopping 8.8 pounds per year.

Turns out the stuff is caramelized, made from a combo of cow and goat’s milk that’s boiled to create a superbly fatty and sugared mixture of milk, cream and whey. And at around 500 calories for a single serving, I’d be wise to remind myself that Norwegians hike mountains and bike uphill all day long and that unless I want 8.8 pounds added to my waistline in the coming months, I better hit the trails…or at least learn the words for “reduced fat.” 

Also for the record, it has recently come to my attention that “say cheese for the camera” is an American thing that doesn’t totally/at all translate. So unless you want to make a Norwegian photographer smile at your stupidity, hold off on the “say ousts.”

Brunoust/sneaky Norwegian candy

Katie most enjoys friends, non-fiction, and dessert. She graduated from University of Pennsylvania and is a contributing editor at Glamour magazine.
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