The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Norwegian Food
Most people in the five countries with the most similar food to Norway speak Germanic languages. In addition, the four countries with the most similar food to Norway also have a lot of coastline, so fish is a common ingredient in their cuisines. These countries also have a deep love for dairy products, like cheese and yogurt. The climate in these countries tends to be quite cool as well.
- Iceland is another sparsely populated country with a lot of mountains and coastline. Both countries consume a lot of fish, especially gravlax (cured salmon) and lutefisk (dried fish). In addition, Norway and Iceland excel in preserving and fermenting their food. However, people from Iceland tend to eat more lamb than in Norweigans, since they do more sheep farming.
- Sweden borders Norway to the east. They also share many culinary similarities due to their shared history and geography. Their cuisine features an abundance of seafood, especially salmon and herring. Additionally, both countries enjoy meatballs, often served with lingonberry sauce, and various potato dishes. The two nations also have a penchant for creamy sauces, and they also often use dill in their cuisine.
- Denmark and Norway have extremely similar culture. Their languages and food are very similar. Danish cuisine showcases a rich tradition of seafood, with pickled herring, cured salmon, and shrimp being prominent. These countries also have a fondness for rye bread and open-faced sandwiches. Both countries have bake delightful pastries, featuring cinnamon, powdered sugar, and icing.
- United Kingdom is not a Scandinavian country, but it also borders the North Sea. Scotland’s cuisine in particular has several parallels with Norwegian food. Smoked fish is beloved in both regions. Both cuisines feature hearty, warming dishes like stews and soups, often made with root vegetables and oats. These countries also consume a lot of savory meat pies.
- Switzerland is the only landlocked country on this list, so it does not eat nearly as much fish. It is also much more further south, although Switzerland’s alpine climate is also quite cold. Their diets share many similarities. Both countries have a fondness for dairy products, especially cheese. In addition, these countries eat many potato-based dishes. They are two of the richest nations in Europe and enjoy a lot of variety in their cuisines.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Norwegian Food
Four of the five countries with the least similar food to Iceland are located in Africa and their climates are significantly warmer than Norway. Moreover, these countries are significantly less developed than Norway as well. With the exception of Micronesia, these nations have little to no coastline.
- Chad borders the Sahara Desert. It is a predominately Muslim country in Africa. Although both Norway and Chad are sparsely populated, Chad’s cuisine is far different. It heavily relies on staple foods like millet, sorghum, rice, corn, and beans, which form the basis of its dishes.
- South Sudan is another landlocked country in Africa. Cassava is the country’s staple food, however its people eat their share of sorghum as well. Porridge is one of the most popular dishes in the country. Unlike Norway, fish are not as commonly eaten in South Sudan, although the Nile River runs through it.
- Central African Republic borders both Chad and South Sudan. Cassava and yam are two of the most commonly eaten ingredients in the country. Furthermore, taro and bananas make up a much greater share of the diet in Central African Republic than in the country of Norway.
- Micronesia is a group of small islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Saltwater fish are the most common meat in both Norway and Micronesia, however other than that their cuisines have little in common. The country’s relative isolation has limited its exposure to foreign influences. Micronesian cuisine tends have more coconut, breadfruit, and taro.
- Democratic Republic of Congo features vast swathes of dense rainforests. Cassava is the dominant staple food in the country. While fish is the most commonly consumed meat in both countries, Norway’s fish are from the ocean, not rivers and lakes. Furthermore, Norway in general eats far more meat.
Norway’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Saltwater Fish, Pork
Fruit: Banana, Apple
Vegetable: Pea, Tomato
Starch: Wheat, Potato
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.