For the benefit of squeamish readers I've posted a smaller picture, click on it if you want a bigger version.
What do you do if say, you're a foreign businessman who happen find yourself invited out to dinner by your Norwegian business contacts in Bergen in December, or, as in my case, you attend a birthday bash and all the guests are served a half sheep's head, like on the picture, each?
In this case, most of the birthday guests, other than me, were family. The ten-year-old chick, who'd grown up in Voss (on the West Coast of Norway), happily chewed the eye, and declared the tongue nothing less than a delicacy, which meant the two twenty-something men at the table (you know, male pride and all of that) felt they couldn't bulk out and let a ten-year-old girl reveal them to be squeamish.
In other words, a very memorable evening where I felt myself transposed back to the time of the Vikings. (Incidentally, I have a piece in the February issue of the Viking Magazine, but it's about Norwegians and Skiing). Many people praise themselves lucky that this traditional dish usually comes with generous amounts of beer and aquavit.
I was also reminded of this excellent commercial from HSBC.
Eating sheep's head is actually a long honoured tradition on the West Coast of Norway: there, it is considered a delicacy, and many families can't quite picture Christmas without it (there's never been a tradition for stuffed turkey in this country, and in the West Country another big Christmas tradition, other than sheep's head, is eating Lutefisk (cod in lye) ). Both of these traditions were born out of necessity: the first shortage of food, the second the need to preserve the food while e.g. transporting it (in the good old days, before modern preservatives or freezing technology was invented, drying the fish and then soaking it in soap must have seemed like a good way to extend the food's sell-by-date). But, as time goes by, what was once born out of necessity, tend to become tradition, and at some point a rather expensive delicacy (I wonder what the poor man's Christmas dinner is in this country, Pizza Grandiosa??).
Which brings me back to my original question, how would you feel being served this at some formal function?