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Where’s the Smør?

Dec 14, 2011

By John Andrews

I read with alarm last week that the country of Norway is facing a critical butter shortage. The story popped up on my computer as I was checking e-mail or Facebook or Twitter or something that I’ve become involved in on the World Wide Web. I’ll admit, I had to look twice to be sure the headline didn’t take me to a satirical story by the clever writers of The Onion. It took me instead to, which as far as I can tell still disperses “real” news.

It seems the butter shortage is the result of a perfect storm. A dry summer led to a 25 percent reduction in milk production. On top of that, Norwegians have taken to some new diet fad that emphasizes few carbohydrates and a high fat intake. Sounds like a pretty fishy diet plan to me, especially considering you don’t see many fat Norwegians to begin with.

“Norwegians are not afraid of natural fats,” said Lars Galtung, head of Norway’s largest farmer cooperative. “They love their butter and cream.”

Having grown up in a largely Norwegian family, I can say that Lars knows what he’s talking about. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that my grandmother, who came to South Dakota from Tromsø, Norway, in 1916, carried a pound or two of butter in her trunk, along with her other worldly possessions. Butter was a staple at “Farm Grandma’s” house. There was butter poured atop lutefisk, and butter spread on lefse or homemade bread. Only nobody called it butter. It was “smør,” Norwegian for butter. It may have been the first non-English word I ever learned. We visited Grandma every Sunday, and I don’t ever remember not seeing the smør tub out. Maybe it never made it back to the fridge because it was used so frequently. I suspect other South Dakotans who grew up Norwegian have similar memories.

Of course the butter-rich Danes are having a ball with this. Apparently a Danish talk show host made a tongue-in-cheek pledge of 1,000 packets of butter to help curb the crisis. I’ve tried to make a few satiric, good-natured comments about the situation to some of my Norwegian cousins on Facebook, but I’ve not heard a reply. I should keep my mouth shut – or rather, my fingers off the keyboard. I’d hate to be grouped with those snarky Danes.


01:21 pm - Thu, December 15 2011
Bernie Hunhoff said:
Mark Tassler was jesting about this on KXRB this morning, but his sidekick Sid was not amused. Sid says this is very serious stuff, and not to be laughed at.
02:28 pm - Thu, December 15 2011
Laura Johnson, Snarky Dane said:
That sounds like the best diet plan ever, especially now that lefse season is here.

Also, are those aebleskiver? I didn't know Norwegians knew how to make those.
07:21 am - Fri, December 16 2011
Rebecca said:
This is fascinating. My Norwegian grandparents use Country Crock on their lefse. I somehow feel like I've been cheated from experiencing an important cultural tradition.
11:00 am - Fri, December 16 2011
Grant Peterson said:
Ja..smør smake delikat !
Smør on pizza is fantastic...
Smør on chocolate die for
Smør on a cookie...a meal in itself
Potet og smør....mmmmmm
Some of the great Norskies actually fry bacon in smør...
A hamburger "pan fried" smør is So much better...That's why Culvers calls'em
Buttter Burgers...
Just try it...s[read some smør on the bun...then just "toasted" to a golden brown in the hamburger drippins' and butter...A bit of heaven...
How can you eat a graham cracker without smø?
Fresh warm brød from the oven...smør melted in..and ice cold melk..ahhhhh
I think smør was one of the 10 recipes that God gave St. Olaf when he met him on top of the Dovre the Norwegians wandered accross Norway after God set them free from the Swedes..Great topic John...and Ja..your Mor og your bestemor make the best lefse in the world... And their old fashioned white cookies are next to the lefse... God Jul or Godt Nyttår til alle at South Dakota Magazine..

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