November and December in Norway are busy months of feasting!
Every group, workplace or sports club or circle of friends organises a Julebord, i.e. a Christmas table. Dress up smart and be prepared for a great night of food and strong alcohol.

This year I was lucky enough to be invited to friends who were having an evening with saueskolt (sheep’s head) from Sunnfjord. I’m used to it being called smalahove, but I’ve learned that there are differences between the two, apart from just the dialect. (Smalahove is the term used in the Voss and Bergen area.)

My friend said that they always had sheep’s head on Skoltesøndag, or as it is also known, skitne-søndag. Dirty Sunday.

Dirty Sunday is the Sunday before Christmas where you wash everything and prepare your house for Christmas. So you end up wearing your dirty clothes, sparing the clean ones for the next week’s big gathering. (This just made me think that we have it too easy these days. I have enough clothes to get me through a week without needing this kind of Dirty Sunday.)

And so, in your dirty clothes, you eat salted, smoked and boiled sheep’s head for dinner for the last time before the next year’s autumn comes.

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Saueskolter på bordet.

It’s not my first time eating Norwegian-style sheep’s head, so I was more excited than grossed out at the prospect. The first time I was a little bit nervous, but I figured my Afrikaans sheep-farmer ancestors would be rolling in their graves, and rolling their eyes, if I didn’t man up and enjoy the meal.

It was awesome. And on that night I learned that a lamb’s eyeball is delicious.

The sheep’s head is smoked and salted, and finally boiled the day that it will be served, giving it a heavy flavour that goes beautifully with whiskey or akevitt. Or a deep red wine.

The only part that creeps me out a little is the inner texture of the cheeks. It’s bumpy. Apparently I have issues with texture sometimes (the same reason why fruit bits in otherwise smooth yoghurt makes my skin crawl).

The rest is fantastic. And the eye! That’s the last part and the best. It’s very similar to bone marrow in both taste and texture. And since bone marrow has been one of my favourite things in the world since I was a baby, I am now an eyeball-lover. Just remember to remove the pupil…

Once you have the eyeball worked and scooped out of the socket, you prod it with your fork, pop into your mouth and wash down with a shot of akevitt.

Dirty Sunday is the best Sunday, even though we had ours on a Saturday evening in November. 🙂

 

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DONE! A plastic surgeon could probably have done a better job, but I tried my best to get every piece!

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