Skip to comments.Norway's old cheese--Viking Viagra? (Norway)
Posted on 03/28/2005 3:19:18 AM PST by franksolich
Have you heard of Norway's Gamalost (Old Cheese)? It was originally made by the Vikings over 1000 years ago, who believed it had many medicinal properties.
But we'll let Janice Nieder tell you what else she discovered:
"Phewww! That stuff is nasty -- smells like my dog's bed, but my Grandpa loves it!" was a typical answer when I asked some teens in Balestand, Norway, if they ate Gamalost cheese.
I had just heard about this cheese originally made by Vikings over 1000 years ago. They believed it had many medicinal properties and would nibble on it during long voyages to provide energy and prevent colds. They also plastered it on their wounds to aid healing.
But its most popular benefit is extolled in early Viking sagas: Gamalost enhances one's sexual prowess.
I decided to visit Norway's last remaining Gamalost creamery, which was only a fifteen-minute ferry ride along Sognefjord, the world's longest fjord. My destination was Vik, a village of colorful wooden homes dwarfed by the backdrop of the Vikafjellet Mountain.
I meandered over to the Tine Cheese Center, which was created to preserve the making of this traditional cheese. The locals call it "Old Cheese" from the days when the cheese was made in the summer, on the mountain dairy farms and took a very long time to mature.
Skimmed cow's milk was left to sour, heated, and then the curds were placed in cloth-lined wooden boxes, wrapped in dried marsh grass, and the aging process would begin. Every other day, for many months, the dairy maids would pull the boxes out from under their beds, where the cheese was stored, and rub the cheese by hand to help spread the bacteria evenly.
By Christmas the cheese had fermented to a brownish gold color and was ready to eat. Nowadays the same principles of production are used, but in the well-equipped modern dairy the aging process is reduced to about two weeks.
There are many health benefits associated with Gamalost. It contains more than 50% protein and less than 1% fat. Also, the cheese contains significant amounts of Chitosan, a substance that is said to lower cholesterol levels. Even without the addition of sugar or salt the cheese is full of flavor.
Which brings us to the great taste debate--this is not a cheese for wimps! Gamalost is a hard crumbly cheese with a very sharp, intense flavor that is not in vogue with the younger generation in Norway (who tend to prefer soft bland cheeses like edam).
One story I heard attesting to the intensity of Gamalost's flavor was that when an old-timer was asked how Gamalost was made, he replied, "Take some cheese, stuff it in an old sock, bury it in manure under the barn and when it is ready, it will crawl out."
However, there are many passionate defenders of this distinctive cheese. The King of Norway is one of Gamalost's biggest fans, and has even visited Tine for a private tasting.
About 20 years ago, the Norwegian Old Cheese Club was formed and today boasts over two-thousand loyal members. And a quote from a local newspaper in 1996 said about Norway's Vebjorn Rodal, Olympic gold medal winner, "The Golden boy was doped on 'Old Cheese' from home".
I was ready for the decisive taste test. First I tried crackers topped with a thin slice of tomato and Gamalost, then whole wheat bread spread with butter, Gamalost, and a dot of lingonberry jam. And I loved it!
The assertive cheese with its earthy nutty flavor, worked with both savory and sweet additions.
Granted, the cheese I tasted was only about two weeks old, and over time would become much more pungent. However, to retard the aging process, simply freeze the cheese and then cut off small pieces for daily consumption. And if it becomes too dry, marinate the Gamalost in port, aquavit, or brandy, for a few days, before serving.
Without a doubt, Tines has a major marketing problem with trying to convert young Norwegians to jump on the Gamalost bandwagon. But, hey, with its Viagra-like claims, they would be lining up for it in the States.
Just reading this gives an old man a chubby.
Behold the power of cheese.
Well, it appears the Norwegians had better eat more of that cheese, so as to increase the birth-rate.
There are not many Moslems in Norway--a minuscule number as compared with Sweden and Denmark--but their own birthrate is significantly higher.
And so it seems to me the Norwegians should forget about investing in "things," and invest in large families instead.
Please add my to your ping list, thank you.
Excellent culinary advice. = )
Excellent culinary advice. = )
Who cut the cheese? Thor cut the cheese!
Any who, outside of an erection, I thought the writer was describing old unwashed sweat socks, which sometimes languish at the bottom of laundry hampers across America.
My friend, you just gave away a multi-million dollar idea away for nothing to Kraft foods.
"Hey Lars, is that gamalost in your pocket or are you happy to see me?"
Yes, in a few years all across America police forces will be using cheese wiz gamalost with a win-win result:
Stage #1- This crap will neutralize any crowd.
Stage #2-They will walk away happy.
Gives the term Cheese-head a whole nother connotation..
I love gjetost myself. I can find it once in a while. My kids always called it peanut butter cheese because it was brown. MMMMMM. Brings back many memories. Now lutefisk...never could quite abide that one. Fiskeboller, yes, lutefisk, no.
Mornin'. Thanks for the ping, and the post.
You're on the now-famous Norway ping list.
Because Norway is such a small country--less people in all of Norway, than in the capital cities of most countries in Europe--not much happens there, but when it happens, it's all good.
You know, I'm trying to figure out this Norwegian architecture.
I looked at a bunch of photographs of houses in Norway, and at some promotions for some famous restaurant in Oslo, and there's really something wrong with the architecture up there.
Too much wall, too few window, if window at all.
Yeah, sure, it probably gets cold in Norway and all that, but man, living in a hole could drive one to drink.
The unrelenting winter winds of Nebraska are cold too, but I would feel as if a gopher in a hole, not living without great big huge enormous spacious windows on all four sides of this house; almost as much window as wall here.
True, it drives up the heating bill, all these large windows, and on all four sides, but being able to look upon the great big wide world outside boosts the morale and shines up the outlook.
I'm solar powered. Sunshine gets me going. I don't do well when it's overcast here on the CA coast. I don't mean just cloudy, I mean low gray sky, like an ugly ceiling.
I haven't checked out the architecture much, but remember the bright colors used as accents. Color can also help to pick you right up.
Hope you are OK. They say that Spring is just around the corner. Can't wait.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest -- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)
It's odd, I don't have any (acknowleged) Norwegian blood in me, though there IS Baverian, English, Cornish, & Welsh, so who knows...
Anyway, for me, the fewer windows, the better I like it.
Might have to do with spending over 20 years on night shifts, and preferring night classes, but still...
Rotted the moral fiber out of the French? Or was that the Limburger?