Pølse: Norwegian hot dog

The hot dog, or pølse, is the easiest and cheapest fast food you can find in Oslo. It’s also an icon of Norwegian food culture. Every convenience store sells pølse and they range from 25-45 NOK depending on how fancy you want to go. But what makes pølse so special in Norway? Well it’s not so much the sausage itself but what it rests in.

Classic Norwegian pølse. Photo by  draupnir .

Classic Norwegian pølse. Photo by draupnir.

Norwegians love of pølse cannot be underestimated. On the National Day, the 17th of May, pølse keeps hungry kids fed and tipsy adults (mostly) upright. On average, each Norwegian eats about two pølser each in celebration of their country (not to mention loads of ice cream). Kids birthdays are practically fuelled by them. But it’s not just a treat, it’s an everyday food as well, frequently landing on dinner tables around the country. One morning, I was waiting for the bus to work when a colleague in his 40s came out of a service station smashing a 10 NOK pølse for breakfast. For an Aussie, it’s like the tradesman who starts the day with a meat pie.

You will find hot dogs in any Narvesen, 7-Eleven or Deli de Luca. These convenience stores are littered all over Oslo, with an incredibly high concentration in the central train station. The hot dogs are made from different meats, but mostly pork and beef. Grillpølse is the most popular variety. They can be wrapped in bacon (baconpølse) and mixed with cheese (ostepølse), chilli and cheese (ostechili), onion (løkpølse) or other flavours. To go on top, you’ll find the usual suspects of ketchup and mustard for free, as well as cheese and crispy onions for 3 NOK each. There are also some interesting Norwegian additions like prawn or potato salad for 6-7 NOK each if you are looking to bulk it up. Hot dogs are often gluten- and lactose-free and it’s possible to find gluten-free bread, just ask at the counter before you order.

Pølse counter at Narvesen.

Pølse counter at Narvesen.

If convenience store pølse doesn't quite do it for you, consider stopping by Syverkiosken. If you are taking a walk down the Aker river it's a very small detour. The kiosk is known for having loyal customers from all walks of life and you can pick up arguably the city's best pølse for 25 NOK.

Here's some inside wisdom though. Instead of getting a standard hot dog bun, be sure to ask for lompe, which is more like a tortilla and made with a mix of potato and flour. Lompe has a nice flavour and is a good match with the sausage - it is meat and potatoes after all. Make sure to add ketchup and mustard and your Norwegian hot dog is complete. Now you just need to eat it without making a mess. If you tick this one off your list you've earned a massive amount of Norway points.

So if you’re wandering around Oslo and getting a little hungry, drop into the nearest convenience store and check out the pølse rolling around behind the counter.