Gauksmesse and a Meal of Nordic Simplicity
Updated: 2 days ago
Listen out for the cuckoo and watch out for witches!
It's 1 May and today is Gauksmesse here in Norway.
Gauksmesse was probably named after the first summer month in pre-Christian times. It was from mid April until mid May and so Gauksmesse was right in the middle. This significant day on the primstav became a celebration of the apostles Phillip and James. But it's impossible to escape the pagan roots of this festival day and according to popular folklore the night before Gauksmesse was the night that witches rode their broomsticks to sacrificial sites to meet the Devil. To protect against the witches bonfires were burnt and fireworks set off.
Nearly all Norwegian primstavs are marked with 1 May, most with a double cross to symbolise the two saints.
The cuckoo was a really important bird to hear on this day. If you heard a cuckoo the omen was usually good. And it was said that when the cuckoo calls, the ham is ready. Hams would have traditionally been set to hang at about Christmas and would have been perfect by now. So a traditional simple Nordic meal of spekmat (ham or cured meats) and eggerøre (stirred eggs), is fitting for a low key celebration on this day. These two simple pleasures are perfect paired with either the beautifully thin flatbread found in Scandinavia, or a slice of hearty wholemeal, and of course plenty of proper butter.
Eggerøre is a dish you find frequently on buffet tables and at summer meals. It's popular on the "julebord" (Christmas buffet table) and as a summer dish. Whichever way you choose to eat it, it's light and delicious.
So let's light those fires to keep the devil away and cook!
Eggerøre og Spekemat (Stirred Eggs and Cured Meats)
2 eggs per person
Chopped chives or a herb of your choosing
1 teaspoon water or cream per egg
1 teaspoon butter per person
Salt and pepper
Air dried ham, salami, prosciutto or other cured meats. I have used a Norwegian air dried ham.
Flatbread or a good loaf of bread
Whisk the eggs together in a jug or bowl. Beat in the water or cream and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy bottomed frying pan on a low heat and melt the butter. When the butter is sizzling slightly add the eggs and with a spatula stir them slowly and constantly over a low heat until set. This will take about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped chives or other herbs. Serve with flatbread or good bread, spekemat and, if you like, a salad. The eggs are best warm and not hot, although in Norway they are usually eaten cold.
This dish goes very nicely with a cold glass of beer or a small glass of aquavit. Skål!!
Vær så god!
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