It is fun learning about Oslo in the company of vegans. My friends who live here are also learning at the same time; they are relatively new here in Norway, and for them this is also a time of exploration. I guess this is true of any cultural minority in a new place, be they Jews in Oahu, Muslims in Sao Paulo or Chinese in Ottawa. You gradually learn about shops and restaurants, where to find ingredients, you run into people at these places and slowly become connected to a local network of like-minded souls.
My Oslo friends generally cook at home. Earlier this week they made one of the best pizzas I have ever tasted in my life – and I say this as someone who spent quite a few years as a pizza-worshipping omnivore. But this evening, in the spirit of exploration, they followed the advice of HappyCow.net and we tried out a Lebanese restaurant they had never been to. When my friends asked the nice young waiter whether the kitchen could make something vegan, he said that it was not a problem at all, and that he would come back and show us what they had.
After a while we started to notice that he hadn’t brought any menus, and we thought our waiter had forgotten about us. But we realized that he had meant what he had said quite literally – when the dishes started coming out: Dozens of small bowls, each with something different – breaded olives and vegetables and potatoes and varieties of beans and delicate little fried felafel cakes, an enormous variety of tasty treats arrayed across our table. The sheer variation in tastes and aromas and textures was a complete delight. It took us a while, but we quite happily ate it all.
That was when, in a moment of inspiration, I referred to my friends as “Norvegans”. They seemed quite pleased with the word – or they may just share my taste in bad puns. The evening was a success all around: My friends in Oslo now have a new restaurant to frequent, I have a memory of a great meal, and this blog post gets to have a really, really cool title.