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Cured reindeer heart served on blinis, potato waffle with reindeer tongue and sea buckthorn sauce. Reindeer meat stew, lingonberry cream and coffee made on the fire! The Trøndelag food culture is inherently also Sami food culture, and at Halsen Middle School in Stjørdal the Trøndelag Food Manifesto Day was celebrated in the outdoors in -12 degrees Celsius.
Text and photo: Mai Løvaas
It's cold out, and the temperature climbs down to -12 degrees Celsius on this brightly sunny day with a clear blue sky. As Covid-restrictions don't allow many people gathered inside, Halsen Middle School has chosen to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Trøndelag Food Manifesto outside. In the pavilion of the school yard are 4 hanging reindeer carcasses. The wood has been stacked, the fire pit is crackling, the coffee pot is humming and cured reindeer hearts are hanging over the fire to smoke.
Sami reindeer herder Nils Tony Brandsfjell in Røros has supplied the reindeer meat for the event at Halsen Middle School. Photo: Mai Løvaas
Chef and teacher of food and health sciences Jan Tore Stokke wanted foods in season when they were to celebrate The Trøndelag Food Manifesto Day and its 10-year anniversary.- As a trained chef it's natural to think about the highest quality foods of the season you're currently in. What can we get ahold of, what is the very best product right now? Winter is when the reindeer are being processed, and in Trøndelag we are so lucky that we have many suppliers of excellent reindeer meat. I made a phone call to Nils Tony Brandsfjell in Røros, asking if he had any reindeer carcasses, and he did. We have gotten hearts, tongues and whole carcasses. It feels very natural and also very exclusive to be able to have this opportunity, he says.The ninth-graders at Halsen Middle School are stirring the reindeer stew over the fire pit, and they are putting lingonberry cream and pickled onions on freshly made blinis that are topped with cured reindeer heart. The cured reindeer heart is sort of like a grav-reindeer, having gone through the same process as gravlax; cured salmon. They are rolling homemade sausages made from reindeer and pork in potato wraps, served with onion marmalade and a bit of mustard. The food is arranged on platters and served to parents, teachers and visitors standing spread out around the pavilion. Glances, smiles and nods are exchanged among guests; this food is unique and very tasty.
Blinis with lingonberry cream, pickled onions and cured reindeer heart. Photo: Mai Løvaas
The Trøndelag Food Manifesto was created 10 years ago. The goal is to elevate the food of the Trøndelag region on many levels, to encourage the use of seasonal foods, to focus on the culture of food, to educate about health and food for young people, and to celebrate the stories of recipes and the products. For the Food Manifesto Day 50 middle school and altogether 1500 students all across the region of Trøndelag participated in the event.At Halsen middle school they have worked for weeks up until this day. Inspired by the recent Sami National Day February 6 they have focused on Sami food traditions, and with reindeer as the main food. - I think it's important that we have such a document as The Food Manifesto, that we prioritize using locally sourced foods, and that we create ownership to our food region. This is important for the restaurants as well as the younger generation. It's important that we involve youth in middle schools, says Stokke, who signed The Food Manifesto 10 years ago when he was a chef at Kirkebyfjellet Lodge.
Jan Tore Stokke and the students are serving bidos - reindeer soup with root vegetables - to delighted guests on the Food Manifesto Day at Halsen Middle Schhol. Photo: Mai Løvaas
- Our intention when creating the culinary- and health curriculum for the students was to spark joy, creativity and inspiration for real food. We will all be having dinner for the rest of our lives, and now the students are learning how to make it themselves, using locally sourced ingredients. Having access to local ingredients of high quality creates a positive relationship to food, he says.Stokke is impressed by the high quality of the locally produced foods in Trøndelag.-Trøndelag is the best region in the entire country for locally sourced ingredients, I mean, we have everything. We have reindeer and game from the mountains and forest, we have mountain lake fish, we have berries in the wild and our large gardens of vegetables and produce, we have fruit as well, and fish and shellfish from the ocean. -I would highly encourage everybody working in the food industry to sign The Food Manifesto. Every respectable restaurant ought to focus on the foods that are produced in their vicinity. It's important to focus on the seasonal foods and to use what is best right now, he says.
Siv Sætran, representing the political leadership of Stjørdal county, has tasted a variety of new dishes. She thinks it's exciting that the topic of the day is Sami food, and she had never tried reindeer heart before, something that fell to her liking. - Everything cooking right now smells amazing, I can't wait to try more dishes and understand what they are and how they are made! she says.Siv Sætran says the Food Manifesto has meant a lot for the development of Trøndelag as a food region. Photo: Mai Løvaas
Sætran thinks that The Food Manifesto has enhanced people's awareness of Trøndelag as a food region.- Because so many restaurants, schools and institutions have signed The Food Manifesto we are starting too see the effects of it here in the food region of Trøndelag today. I think the Manifesto has created ownership and belonging, she says.- Most counties have already signed, and those left will be signing by the end of the year. I think it makes a difference in our daily lives as well, shaping the choices we make and what kind of food we buy. I think The Food Manifesto is the reason why the food culture is where it's at in Trøndelag today, she says.
Students are out among the guests passing around trays of delectable goods. Potato waffle with reindeer tongue and sea buckthorn cream is a new thing for most guests, and people are curious, tasting, smiling and asking questions.
Potato waffle with reindeer tongue and sea buckthorn cream, arranged on reindeer fur. Photo: Mai Løvaas
The temperature is still -12 degrees celsius, and even though the afternoon sun is still bright the cold does penetrate. It feels extra warming to get served a bowl of piping hot bidos; reindeer meat soup with root vegetables. There is also the option of a stew with thinly shaved reindeer meat, pickled chanterelles, and cream.This is a gourmet feast!
Afterwards there is dessert; small glasses are served with 'Troll Cream', which is a non-baked meringue of whipped egg whites and sugar, with lingonberries stirred in. The lingonberry dessert it served with caramelized popcorn.
Who wants dessert? Lingonberry Troll Cream served with caramelized popcorn. Photo: Mai Løvaas
It's been a rather chilly day, but a true culinary journey of winter from the white and snowy reindeer mountains and the living Sami food culture.
Slice the reindeer hearts, and put them in a bowl with 60% salt and 40% sugar and fresh herbs of your choosing. Let them marinate for 3-4 days, the juices from the meat will create a 'grav' marinating process. To give it aroma and a lightly smoky flavor, hang the reindeer hearts up over the fire pit and let them smoke for a few hours. Serve on crackers with a small dollop of cream and chives on top.
Halsen Middle School student Markus Holmen is slicing marinated grav-reindeer heart. Photo: Mai Løvaas
1. We seek to promote the uniqueness, diversity and flavor of the food produced in Trøndelag in all areas ranging from the coast and the ocean to the high plains and mountains.2. We seek to contribute to using raw materials and foods that further the enjoyment of food and health.3. We seek to contribute to the marketing of local foods and food traditions as tourist attractions.4. We seek to communicate the stories about Trøndelag foods and its preparations.5. We seek to utilize foods from the ocean and the land throughout their seasonal variations.6. We seek to encourage the use of foods and products that are environmentally sustainable.7. We seek to support good food and food culture among children and youth.8. The food and food culture of Trøndelag will be evidence based. We seek to contribute to the development of regional foods and products through education, innovation and research.
(Photo Gallery: Lars Bugge Aarseth)