My thought process is that I'd rather be more productive during working hours and go home early, than waste 2 hours in the middle of the day on a heavy calorie lunch.
No idea how that happened, I used to be really really into having nice and fancy team lunches now and then, nowadays I save those times for a nice date in a pretty good restaurant.
My family is deeply split down the middle as to whether it's fantastic or a crime against cheese.
We have multiple versions, Brunost ("brown cheese") in different varieties that can generally be classified as mysost ("whey cheese"), which is the closest we get to a language distinction for this product that is distinct from cheese. I think the same term can be used for geitost ("goat cheese"). But all of these terms have the word "cheese" in them :D
you mean by seating in front of a table for the most part of the day and constantly talking about food? :)
For us meals, especially lunch, are of the utmost importance.
And it's a crucial element at work. It's a moment of bonding and team-building. If you want to make a team-building activity in Portugal, forget all those annoying and stupid activities. Just gather everybody around a table with food.
One sleepy little town basically shut down between 12:30 and 14:30 every day. Everyone went home for lunch but also the majority of the local shops shut too.
How do you get anything done??
a) You can stay on and try to work in the heat.
b) You can go home, have lunch, take a little nap and return in the evening when it's cooler.
Option (a) means you spend the next three or four hours in a zombie-like state with your brain addled by the heat and your productivity severely reduced. Basically, you will do no real work at that time, you'll just be filling your chair and pretending to work.
Option (b) is the optimal allocation of resources. You work when you're in your most productive and when you can't be productive, you don't work.
I'm speaking of very recent experience. I spent August and September in Greece, working on my PhD research(80% coding, 20% paper writing, should probably have been the other way around). I'd have lunch around 14:00, then go for a nap around 15:00 when the glycaemic spike would hit (often just from a bit of salad, but with lots of olive oil). I'd set my alarm to 15:20 to make sure I wouldn't oversleep. That's just a quick nap- but I would wake up invigorated and work 'till night time, when friends would appear unsummoned and drag me off to drink and celebrate life like only we in the South know how to .
 "Very hot" is over 30°C most of the year, near 40°C in the summer (which lasts most of Spring and half of Autumn, too). That's _on average_.
 This is sarcasm.
Don't kid yourself when comparing the present to the past (and for some, still present) with sun-up to sun-down manual labor.
Hmm, what other ingredients did you have in your salad? I would think the relatively low-carb (mostly leaves) and high-fat (olive oil) meal would cause a very minimal blood sugar spike, if one at all.
The olive oil on its own, plus the heat is sufficient to knock you out really. It gets _really_ hot in Greece in the summer.
This site shows Athens over 20 degrees (just) on average, six months of the year.
These days I only go home in the summer (July to September to be more precise) so I guess I've inflated how hot it is, in my mind.
Now I'm a laughing stock. And rightly so.
You do not need much more time to refocus after a two hour break than after a half an hour break, but the two hours break and the larger meal allows you to work until longer in the evening. In many cases, you can even spend time with your family during this middle of day break, so you do not have that necessity to leave early.
I have followed the two different lifestyles in the south and north of Europe. Northern people tell you how their system allows them to leave early and have more time for family or whatever, but truth is people in the south spent way more time with family and friends. Also, south people usually work more hours, but it's the north people who get the job done.
Or of course we could be pragmatic and have siesta booths in every workplace etc.
Finally, there's the nuclear option: air conditioning. I find that in offices where it's constantly 18°C you don't need to take a siesta (but you have to carry your coat with you in the heart of summer to avoid frostbite).
If everything adjusts to that schedule it’s a nice way to live.
If, however, you run out of water and stumble in to such a village at 12:35 you’re in bad luck.
India is also hot, they don't close for siestas.
I'm not demanding change, purely making an observation as a Northern European consultant who happens to drop in to the culture a few weeks a year.
That's not been true since the 80s.
You're probably confused by the fact that some services shut down at lunch time (service facing offices like banks) for historical reason, we in Italy have a very rigid system of contracts that regulate each category of work in a very precis way, including work hours.
If banks want to stay open at lunch time, they'll have to change the national contract.
But if you go to an hospital or a bar or a restaurant or an IKEA branch, you'll find people working hard even at lunch time.
Source: born, raised and still living in Italy since 43 years ago.
> How do you get anything done??
I don't know, maybe We are smarter than the rest of the World... :)
Getting things done is not about the time you put in them, it's about the effort.
I'm sorry my person experience doesn't match with your statement?
By doing things well. ;)
Seriously, ask you colleagues, who has ever done anything good at lunch time, when low sugar fatigue kicks in?
And I live in Italy.
I'm taking the latter one. I eat lunch at 1pm in normal days, and my sleepiness usually kicks in around 2pm. Then I take a 15-min power nap, and I become fully energized again.
The process I take a nap is 1) open up a terminal and press the enter, so the current time is shown in a prompt. 2) literally headdesk. 3) wake up and hit the enter again, then you'll know how long you've slept. You can even set up a small script to measure your sleep time.
It turned out that my nap time is almost constant between 15 to 20 mins. Technically I can argue that I'm splitting my lunch break into two parts and using it for different purposes (45 min for lunch and 15 min for nap), so I'm not that much slacking.
I am interested! How did you, and how long did it take you?
I learned how to nap while adjusting to the Uberman polyphasic sleep schedule (20 min naps every 4 hours). Wouldn't have described myself as a proficient napper before that, but do now.
My memory of the process is a little dim given it was in 2011, but the first thing most people I talk to about this say is "Man, I could never do that, I'd never fall asleep fast enough," and the answer to that is simple - during the adjustment period your problem is never falling asleep; it'll definitely be waking up. :)
But I still nap even though I stopped Uberman after a year (it worked fine, life just took me elsewhere), and things I've learned:
- I think most people would agree that meditating is definitely a trainable skill. The edge I ride while meditating is being completely immobile, comfortable and relaxed while keeping my awareness focused and sharp. Allowing my mind to wander is one failure mode, but falling asleep is another. For me, a "poor" meditation session frequently feels like a great nap ;) But in all seriousness, for me the physical setup for meditation and a nap is almost identical - comfortable position, no pressure points that I'll need to adjust in five minutes (this is just experience), and as relaxed as I can get. Some guided meditation tracks help train this by making you go through each part of your body and relax them one at a time. That's helpful to do a few times imo, but you get the hang of it quickly and should be able to do it yourself and all at once very fast.
- As far as my thoughts go - it's almost the opposite of meditation. In meditation, I'm constantly wrenching my attention back to my breathing or my big toe or whatever. For a nap, I drop the reins on my mind and let it do whatever it wants. Free association. I have basically one rule, which is that I don't think about problems - nothing that I'm trying to solve or understand. If I'm fresh off of work or an intense game or something, I'll seed my thoughts with some pleasant topic, situation or person and then let it wander from there. The more nonsensical and unreal the thoughts are, the better - it's almost like maintaining internally-consistent thoughts keeps my brain conscious and vice versa. Think Alice in Wonderland nonsense-poem level absurdity. When I'm on a well-balanced schedule (I'm on a two-nap schedule now and trying to hit my naps with about 30 min accuracy), my naps are light enough that I dream easily - so frequently, whatever free-associated thoughts I'm having transition seamlessly into dreamstuff.
- I used to sleep with closed-back around-ear headphones playing music the vast majority of the time (my naps are almost always on my back; my core sleep is usually on my front). I was diagnosed ADD years after learning to nap; I interpreted my use of music as giving my brain the stimulation it needs to relax or something. I was also in a college dorm, so I also experimented with earplugs under the headphones but generally found them uncomfortable (basic etymotics, not foam ones). I don't sleep with music much any more, but I still frequently sleep with headphones on for some basic background conversation reduction and as a visual "don't interrupt me" signal if I'm in public.
- sleep masks are a gift from heaven. I didn't use them back then, but I seriously picked them up last year and after a week or so of getting used to sleeping with something strapped to my face, they are astoundingly helpful. It's worth it to get a pair with eye cups so your eyelashes don't brush the inside (much) when your eyes move or open. These are a much stronger "don't interrupt me" signal than headphones, lol.
- I'm pretty skinny and don't have a big caffeine habit so small amounts of it noticeably affect my ability to nap. Be aware of any stimulants you're consuming - coffee, cigarettes, adderall, what have you - and if napping is hard, consider experimenting with timing / ordering naps and stimulants. During the Uberman transition period, I did play around with chugging a bottle of Coke and immediately taking a nap, so I could fall asleep but the caffeine would hit as early as possible after I woke up and not affect my next nap too much. I don't remember if this worked well, but this is the kind of thing you can play with.
- During Uberman, I was sort of forced to nap anywhere and everywhere - on lawns, in the backs of SUVs, on buses, in movie theatres, etc. I actually put my mattress away, and when napping in my room, I folded a rough blanket into four or six layers on the floor and slept on that (to make it less tempting to stay in bed). This definitely got me more accustomed to sleeping in mildly uncomfortable places and that's stayed with me. (But I tell you what, it's real hard to nap at Disneyland. All the benches I found were too short to stretch out on, there are no grass areas that aren't fenced off, shade is a valued resource that's almost always either in a high-traffic area or, in the more isolated pockets, already occupied. I ended up on a bench in the sun with a sleep mask on, my legs threaded through the armrest and my head on my gf's lap so randos wouldn't call security on me... it was not a best nap ever :) )
I used to work with investment company boards and so I spent a lot of time in all-day meetings with a bunch of old men. I called the hour after lunch "nap time" because at least one of them would always fall asleep.
And also it is not customary to eat the lunch in front of the computer. Even in the blandest of work environments, there is a welld defined lunch room and time, and expectation, where people have their lunches.
My hint: Experiment with a meal without or with very minimal amount of carbs (for example eat a salad with meat or something like that) - that keeps you full of energy and doesn't drive your productivity down or that is at least how it works for me.
When you add up the meal prep and time eating every week (for what are generally low quality calories), it's a tremendous time saver, in addition to the productivity boost.
I'm also curious about you using peanut butter, in my experience, even though it's readily available in stores (well, one brand), it doesn't seem like many Norwegians actually eat it regularly.
I never understood this nordic lifestyle I saw in Scandinavia, Benelux and Northern Germany where people refuse to take a proper lunch break and just eat some random cold food in front of their computer for the sake of productivity for their employer. It's just depressing to see and unhealthy in the long term.
In southern Europe(Austria) having a walk to the bistro for a warm lunch with freshly cooked quality food, away form my desk is not only healthy but also gives me a refreshing physical, mental and morale boost.
Sitting glued to my chair in front of the computer for 8 hours straight is not only unhealthy but would just burn me out quickly.
The last thing we need is people in other countries who have nothing to do with us telling us our food culture isn't "proper".
God that was depressing, and stressful. The mad rush to the compulsory office canteen, buy some basic food, throw the food in, and run back to your desk as you only have a 30 minutes lunch break.
No chance of going outside for a short walk to get some oxygen, little choice in what food to get, no chance of bonding with colleagues and not talk about work, no chance of disconnecting and avoiding stress.
Only occasionally did I manage to convince colleagues to rebel, go outside with me to a sushi place (or McD's...), sit in the park for bit, and take a few breaths and not rush back. It should be a daily occurrance but only happened once or twice a month.
Having mostly worked in an industry where formal breaks largely don't exist, I find returning to work after more than 10 minutes painful. I hated the one place with mandated 30 minute lunches because I'd be completely unwound by the end of it and just wanted to go home.
I personally eat full meals at 10AM and 7PM and light meals at 3PM and 9PM. Not the most conventional times but that's when I'm hungry. Everyone has different times that work for them.
A couple of years ago or so I started skipping breakfast and eating my first meal at lunchtime.
This works extremely well for me and allows me to keep focus through the day - even if I eat a warm lunch instead of just Norwegian "matpakke".
Personally I "skip" breakfast and lunch, eating my first meal at dinner. Late night munchies, my diet kryptonite, land in my eating period so I'm more likely to be hungry enough for proper food.
During the day that means no breakfast before work, no lunch packing, no bad cantinas, and no productivity slumps before or after meals. At night it means I can be a lot more calorie dense with my meals, and feel good about it :)
People would go get their kids at school, have lunch with them at home, and bring them back before returning to work. Or child free people would go have a nice lunch out together. I personally would go back to my apartment and cook with my girlfriend. It was really nice. Adding to that, French companies have to give you a “ticket restaurant” if they don’t provide you lunches, which is essentially a 10 euro or so coupon that you can use at any restaurant, or even to buy food in grocery stores, so you get a lot of flexibility.
It was all very pleasant. I haven’t worked in France in many years, and I hear from friends that this culture is eroding, and places that still follow this kind of pace are getting rarer and rarer.
In my current team (US), we all take an hour long lunch break all together every day. That is a surprising thing to most other people at the company, and I suspect we started doing that because many of us in the team are European.
I really preferred eating at my desk while clocked in to eating a slow, luxurious lunch while clocked out. The slow lunch just means less time for the things you actually want to do.
Having also held salaried jobs, it was very much the case that some people worked different schedules than others. One was particularly notable for leaving in the early afternoon.
Yes, your employer's expectations for "business hours" are set by how many of those hours you spend being present at work. Try extending your lunch another hour and leaving at the same time, see what your employer thinks.
Your lunch hour isn't really an hour, by the time walk somewhere or prepare a lunch. I can't use that hour to actually spend time with my friends or do anything meaningful. I'd rather skip lunch and just head to the pub with my mates at 5.
We're now under the constant reminder from our employers that there's always a bunch of people outside ready to do your work without lunch break for less money.
In Scandinavia, lunch breaks are mandated by law. In Norway, if you work more than 5.5 hours, your employer must give you at least 30 minutes off (unpaid) to have lunch. If the nature of your workplace is such that you cannot leave work, the lunch break is paid. 
Hence no desperate souls at the gate, ready to take my place without demanding any lunch break.
Also, as other scandinavians have pointed out - this is not a recent measure to make life easier on your employer; it's just the way it has always been.
Employer won't get more or better work if you prevent everyone taking a worthwhile break. Thankfully nearly all the places I've worked over the years have been entirely happy to permit it. Or expect it.
Also, people are planning meeting at 13h, because they can't find a time where everyone is available. I have a weekly meeting set up every thursday at 13h, I hate it because I have to rush my lunch.
Norway and Sweden are completely different. In Sweden most people either go out to a restaurant for a warm a lunch or eat a warm lunch they brought with from home. An hour lunch break, while not official sanctioned, is hardly uncommon.
And even when I worked in Norway where many people just ate sandwiches for lunch, almost everybody ate lunch in the lunchroom.
Sitting glued to my chair in front of the computer for 8 hours straight
Or you sit glued to your computer 6 hours straight, get done what you where supposed to do and go home at 3 to be with your family or get in some other afternoon activities. A very common mindset in Norway.
Is job done? Nop...
Actually it is between 8:45 and 16:05
Here is some proof:
That is when Accenture billed 350 MILLION USD... for miscellaneous it services.
I’d say an average working day is 7 hours plus a 30-minute lunch break, usually taken before noon.
I don't know about the preferences of the parent you're replying to, however the description in this article - and what others here have said - sounds depressing as hell.
You're being strongly downvoted because you're not allowed to say anything negative about Scandinavian culture.
If this food story were about the US, it would be held up as an example of how Americans are tortured in their food choices (read any popular thread on HN about American food); and in your example, in their work habits (sit there and eat your sad little sandwich, worker robot). Since it's Norway, it's an extraordinary shared cultural culinary experience in its wisely barren, enlightened simplicity of nothingness. As the article comically exclaims: it's unexpectedly genius.
No, it's perfectly fair to call it out for what it actually is: depressing, a sad tradition of mediocre sandwich lunches.
Hilariously, in this thread you have people arguing that Americans eat bland flavorless food while also arguing that Americans "obsess" over food that tastes good, both from a negative perspective.
I guess now Scandinavians are also a "protected" "race"- list...
It's just food, it doesn't have to be a party.
No offense, but only kids need to be entertained to eat, most people need food only because they get hungry.
If I want to have a nice meal, I go out at night with my girlfriend in a restaurant we like.
> In southern Europe(Austria)
That's a bold statement! :)
Austria is Mitteleuropa (middle Europe) its traditions are very similar to those of Germany, southern Europe is radically different.
In Italy we call "germans" the people living in Südtirol on the border with Austria, because they are different from average stereotypical Italians.
Anyway you can walk to a bistrot (it's a French thing, not Austrian) and have warm lunch with fresh cooked quality food (it's a southern tradition, historically northern countries had problems growing fresh food in their long winters, except for apples, that grow abundantly in south Austria) in Berlin or Stockholm as well.
If you leave Wien and go to the Austrian mountains, for example Innsbruck, you can experience typical Tyrolean food, which is equally good, albeit not exactly light.
If feel that tech companies' free lunchs work against this since lunch ends up only taking 20-30 mins instead of an hour. And no they don't get more work out of me, I just leave 30 mins earlier. That great if you want to get home as quick as possible. I'd prefer a balance of making work more enjoyable and feel the lunch socializing contributes to that.
I want to feel that way, too, but unfortunately long lunches -- and especially social ones -- kill my momentum. I lose so much time getting back into the zone afterwards that I just can't afford it. I eat my lunch alone and as quickly as possible, and socialise with my co-workers after work instead when possible.
How many calories are in your sandwich though?! Sounds extremely calorie dense!
Also, if you were wondering what's up with "caviar" as a topping, it's this stuff made from cod roe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalles_Kaviar
To be fair, though: My spouse, the resident Norwegian, really likes it. Soetimes with a sliced, hard-boiled egg. But he's also been eating it since he was a child as it is a cheap and easy thing to make children. It is more akin to American children with peanut butter.
I, however, being the import to Norway, find it fairly disgusting.
That said, I've heard a some dissent from younger swedes about surströmming but not about Kalles heh.
Denmark disagrees with you https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sm%C3%B8rrebr%C3%B8d
I make regular trips to IKEA just to buy it, apparently they're one of the US's largest importers of Swedish food.
But yes, its very different than what most Americans think of Caviar; This is very much un-fancy.
Also, gooseberry jam.
A lot of people seem to be under the wrong impression that simple foods are low in calories. Compared to other sandwiches the Norwegian sandwich seems to substitute protein (less meat and cheese) for more saturated fat and carbs (an extra slice of bread, butter on the bread).
I think your comparison to other subs is off thought. Depending on the meat of the sub you might be reducing protein, but the Norwegian sandwich definitely has less fat (less cheese, less calories in the butter than mayo or other sauce, less fatty meats). Usually the bread preferred also has more whole grain and fibers than what's used in the US.
Butter is much higher in saturated fat and calories than mayo, and you're putting butter on 3 slices whereas you usually only but mayo on one (per the article). One tablespoon of butter is 100 calories and 7 grams of saturated fat, one tablespoon of mayo has 60 calories and 1.5 grams of saturated fat.
If I look at the nutritional information for Kalles Kavier (which someone suggested as a topping), it seems to also be pretty high in calories with a lot coming from extra carbs (sugar).
A Norwegian "sandwich" has one slice of bread. The picture at the top of the article shows 3 stacked open-face sandwiches.
Sometimes people will do "British-style" sandwiches when putting on things like jam to avoid making a mess, but open-face sandwiches is most traditional.
> last year I have made a matpakke with 3 slices of bread
Which also aligns with what's said in the article. If you eat three of these in a meal, you're getting one more slice of bread than you'd get from a meal consisting of a single sandwich.
> Compared to other sandwiches the Norwegian sandwich seems to substitute protein (less meat and cheese) for more saturated fat and carbs (an extra slice of bread, butter on the bread).
It's meaningless to compare to a "single sandwich" anyway, because e.g. the bread size will vary dramatically depending on country. I live in the UK now, and the slices used for sandwiches here are often 50% or more larger than what I'm used to from Norway.
But especially if talking about the amount of protein relative to carbs or fats, I don't think it's very different - each of those three slices of bread gets their own slice of meat or cheese. And not by any means everyone will use butter, while you'll get plenty of sandwiches elsewhere (e.g. UK) that are buttered.
The qualification seems unnecessary to me. It's lunch (well, to me, it's breakfast). It's no wonder people are depressed eating it when everybody keeps calling it boring. It's bread with a topping. It's fine. It tastes good. Does every meal need to be akin to a sushi buffet?
Literally we’re talking about exactly that plus some fat. I don’t see how the fat all of the sudden makes it not boring. Especially given this is then eaten daily.
What are you basing this on? The common stereotype is that Scandinavians tend to be extremely conscious about not bothering others.
But everything is left to the government. Parents do not take care of their children. Children do not care about their parents or family.
If you have troubles, you either get drunk or shut it....
Norwegians have a fuck season which they call "julebordsesong" (Christmass party season) where a big part of the nation ends up cheating.
Family cohesion is non exsistant.
Also anything that is not illegal is acceptable.
Do you want me to keep going ?
Your comments on this have been curiously interesting, no doubt because they come from personal experience, and also because the rant is over-the-top which makes it a bit less mean. But it simply isn't legit to smear a whole country, and posting like this destroys the container here. HN's Norwegian readers have the same right as everyone else not show up here and run into comments that slur them. Please find a different way to tell your story.
I spend a lot of time with latino people (due to work), and yes, I agree that they are a lot less boring than Norwegians. But hour after hour of juvenile penis-jokes and giggling at what is always something sexual, it gets pretty boring too. Sure, they do laugh a lot more than Norwegians, but for anyone else, they come off as pretty boring as well.
At the Norwegian table, during lunch, the discussions are often deeper and more interesting, but there is a lot less laughter.
It is a calm place.If you know how to live in it. Just like a jungle. I just treat it like my personal urban jungle where I can do whatever I want.
That is the beauty of Norwegians. They are pushovers, non confrontational, scared , and very easy to manipulate and intimidate.
So work is easy, money are good I found out that a Norwegian food is cheaper that an Indian servant.
First, nobody 'wastes' 2 hours, just 30-45min in a regular lunch.
Second, a healhty lunch means, adequate calories and nutrients. And that does not mean it will kill your productivity.
As a Spaniard, I'm very offended by your opinion. Also, I would like to know what your ancestors ate before all these ultraprocessed food existed, pretty sure it was more nutritious. Also, pretty sure they invested more than 10 minutes.
Their lunch traditions are definitely basic, as they were not a wealthy country for hundreds of years before striking oil in the 60s.
The point to remember is that while the fare is basic, the quality is typically very good. Their cheese is extra creamy and nutritious, as is the bread. The same goes for the milk.
Many Europeans won’t drink the milk here in the States because the quality tends to be much lower, due to feed/living conditions for livestock. Garbage in = garbage out.
I was surprised by that statement and had to look it up and it was, of course, false. Norway was a wealthy country back to the 1800s:
sources: https://medium.com/@Jernfrost/no-norway-was-not-a-poor-count... and https://eh.net/encyclopedia/the-economic-history-of-norway/
Even in my lifetime - I'm 44 - the growth in wealth in Norway has been astounding.
Ironically, for example, whale meat is something I remember from my childhood as a cheap meat substitute (but that is now an expensive "delicacy"; we never saw it as a delicacy then - it is tough and oily) because my parents despite both having good jobs could not often afford beef in the early 80s. Even then we'd usually have it only once a week.
When I was a kid, a packed lunch was an economic necessity for many families.
This was also in some sense exacerbated by more income equality: eating out is relatively expensive in Norway because serving staff are also paid reasonably well.
But I think the main reason the matpakke has survived is basically that this was much closer to the norm a lot of places with low population density (~13 per square kilometer in Norway) berfore urbanization and well into early industrialisation and that Norway also for a long time was very severely lutheran, with a puritan streak. Even if you have money, showing it off is not the done thing.
Every rich country was once very poor relative to its current status though. This doesn't change the fact that Norway was not poor relative to other European countries at the time.
Here's an Italian movie from the 1970s, showing a family in a large slum around Italy.
A very typical and widespread cousin of the Norwegian sandwich from USSR/Russia - "buterbrod" https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterbrot . Bread + butter topped with cheese or bologna or hard salami and chased down with black tea (hot, or at least warm, to make sure that the high fat content of the butter and the topping blooms into great taste, and it probably also helps digestion considering how good it feels :). Topped with cold smoked fatty fish (typically a red like salmon) or red or black caviar - great "zakuska" (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zakuski) to chase down vodka or cognac.
If you have the time and money, I found the opposite to be true.
The average quality of products like bread and meat is much lower in the US than in Europe, but in the US I have the option of going to some high end shop or bakery and get stuff that is much better than I can get here in Europe. In Europe things are extremely uniform. (Yes, I realize that Europe is a big place and I am generalizing somewhat.)
Good cheese is very hard to find in the US though. Speciality shops are rare and even there you have much less options.
When I go to the US, on the first day I am very saddened by the "bread" and milk I can find, it's just awful, but quickly I go to the good shops and get the good stuff.
When I come back to Europe I am saddened again because now I can't get the good stuff anymore, no matter how much time and effort I put into it. That's why now I bake my own bread here in Europe.
I spend a large proportion of my time in the US, and I found that this phenomenon generalizes to many products. For many products the US average is worse than the European equivalent, but in the US there's a much broader distribution of quality, and the high end tail of the quality spectrum is usually in the US. Of course this quality comes at a cost.
Maybe you need to shop around a bit. There are also high-end shops and bakeries in Europe. Though maybe not in every town.
You can't have the same food culture in places that are covered in snow at least half the year.
Your climate hypothesis doesn’t quite hold unfortunately.
Milk is tested frequently and antibiotics are very rarely found . Milk tankers that test positive for antibiotics are discarded and this milk never enters into the human consumption stream.
>While the administration of growth hormones known as BST or rBGH to dairy cows is allowed in the US, it is illegal in Canada and therefore not permitted for use with any dairy cows.
>In both Canada and the United States, all milk sold must be antibiotic-free, so the issue is more about potential antibiotic-resistance than actually consuming antibiotics through milk. In Canada, a farmer who provides a dairy with milk containing antibiotics will have to pay for all expenses related to the milk that is thrown out. That means farmers take their commitment to providing antibiotic-free milk seriously.
Source - grew up on a NZ dairy farm. Every milk collection from every farm was sampled and tested for bacteria, and antibiotics. Too much of the first, and you were penalised with a lower payment for a start. Any of the latter, and you paid for disposal of all the milk in the tanker load, from your farm, and the others it collected. This was thirty years ago, if anything it will be stricter now.
Solution was simple, look after the cattle, and keep the medicated ones out of the milking herd.
Also the websites only talk about maintaining a database over this not that you need to discard the milk if positive.
Nobody wants out of spec milk because it's not useful. You can't sell it because it will come back to bite you.
Of course this varies a lot based on the store and product.
Unless most people in Europe are buying direct from the dairies, I can't imagine it's appreciably faster. Even then, I grew up having milk delivered direct from the dairy and definitely don't notice any difference between what I grew up with and what I typically buy in the grocery store.
I would guess most of the flavor difference comes from pasteurization differences, since Ultra High Temperature pasteurization appears to be the norm over there.
Same for me. It took me a bit to figure out what was going on with this discussion and then suddenly I realized ..
The US is not a single system and actually the quality does vary a lot. I remember being in Florida and thinking why is the milk so weird.
I wonder if it's due to Spain being a warmer country and the milk spoiling more quickly.
Just remember they moved to Ultra High Pasteurization because 2 weeks was simply not long enough.
What is concerning is the high fructose corn syrup, kelp & skim milk blend that Darigold, Kroger and other US milk producers are advertising as Fat Free Half n Half: https://www.fredmeyer.com/search?query=fat%20free%20half&sea...
(According to various sources I can find when googling this, there's no difference between ultra-pasteurized and UHT.)
That wasn't the idea. It was supposed to sit unrefrigerated on normal shelves. They haven't had great success with the product in the US as people don't trust non-refrigerated milk.
That’s the extreme which would be very unusual, but buying milk that’s ‘only’ 2 week old milk is reasonably common. All it takes is knowing how long the sell by date is after pasteurization and another ~1-2 days to get to that point and you can find how old this stuff is.
Do you have a citation for this by any chance? I've had a quick Google but no luck. Been interested in average food quality differences in US and EU since the "chlorinated chicken" news in the UK.
My kids go to a school in Spain and they get a 3 course meal every day for about 5 EUR a day. As a parent its great because you know they've had a full complete meal every day and you can just make a small evening meal.
For starters, Norwegians do not employ rye bread.
Furthermore, Norwegian open-faced sandwiches have not evolved into full-blown smørrebrød - where stacking multiple ingredients is such essential part, that you cannot eat the common smørrebrød without cutlery.
Case in point: https://www.valdemarsro.dk/luksus-stjerneskud/
At my university, we would lunch in groups, building such works of art during lunch-time from shared packs of ingredients.
It may be that Danish school children get a "boring" lunch, similar to the Norwegian one. However, as Danes grow up, their lunches evolve in tastes and complexity. It seems less so in Norway, and that's OK, but a tiny bit boring :-P
Most important is good bread, which is super common here, despite it being totally unavailable in most other countries. All ordinary grocery stores get freshly baked bread every day, whole in paper bags of course.
For example - with a thick slice of butter, then some oven-baked liver paste and two slices of gherkin on top and boom - you have something delicious in a single minute.
Having lived in Norway for two years, and resorted to deep frozen baguettes from Meny (an upscale supermarket chain) because the fresh bread was so bad, I'm... not sure about this.
Glad to be back in Finland where the bread is good (seriously!) and the lunches are substantial, healthy, warm and filling.
My recommendation: get a decent bread baking machine. What's decent? One where the bread, container and rotor all come out of the machine after baking, so they can be easily washed. It takes about 2 minutes to mix in everything, and the quality is honestly pretty indistinguishable from hand made (as long as I remember to put the rotor back in after cleaning it :).
Dwarf bread refined over decades: 400g wheat flour (coarse if you can get a hold of it), 300ml water, 1ts salt, 50ml olive oil and ½ts dry yeast, which goes in a separate compartment in the machine to be dropped in when ready. To this you can add up to 200g or so of goodies - pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts or grated carrot.
My mother-in-law criticized me and my wife for buying fresh salmon as being “too expensive” despite her being a millionaire, and it being quite affordable for us. She thinks tuna in a can is “good enough”.
I think the rest of Europe will argue with this.
The breads you get in your average American supermarket (Giant, Safeway, Shoprite and so on) are either the pre-sliced, packaged kind, which are largely flavourless and full of preservatives and sugar, or the stuff in the bakery section, which tend to be Italian-style white bread rolls, bagels and so on. You can find better bread — and sometimes very, very good bread — in many bakeries, or in high-end grocery stores like Whole Food, at farmer's markets, and so on. But it's not the norm.
Scandinavian supermarkets generally don't have separate bread and bakery sections. There's just a bread section , where you'll find all freshly made bread. The whole grain content is very high, and the breads feel rustic and wholesome overall. You'll be able to find plain wheat bread and French baguettes, but these are the exception. You'll also find some pre-packaged breads, but they are typically sold specifically for their longevity.
While I can get great bread in the U.S. if I seek it out, I still miss the easy availability of good bread, and I feel bad for all those who think that pre-sliced package bread is all there is.
It is true that you can get extremely high quality fresh bread from a bakery (or even bakeries inside grocery stores) but that isn’t really part of the culture and good quality bread is usually considered an occasional treat.
[EDIT] and this bleeds over into anything requiring bread, like a sandwich. If you buy one out and it's not quite expensive, it will for sure be using pretty bad bread and there'll be a fairly low cap on how good it might be.
[EDIT EDIT] toss in the fact that decent or better cheese is more expensive here, and the sandwich situation is downright dire.
Every grocery store near me has giant signs advertising fresh baked bread. Buying bread in plastic bags isn't necessary.
Heck when I was a poor college student I'd buy fresh baked 6 inch sandwich rolls, IIRC they were 6 for $2 or $3.
So, yes, in spite of the typical HN US-bashing, fresh bread is available in America.
1. The chain of Brazilian bakeries around me
2. The fresh bread loaves baked at multiple larger Asian grocery stores.
3. The awesome Vietnamese bakery that sends out fresh baguettes daily.
4. The multiple dedicated Japanese bakeries making fresh bread.
5. The multiple dedicated Chinese bakeries making fresh loaves of bread.
6. The multiple local American bakeries that deliver fresh bread to area grocery stores every day.
Actually, after making that list, I am kind of shocked at how large the market is for fresh baked bread...
Then I'll walk to the Eastern European deli a couple blocks from my house! Though only a small selection of their bread is freshly delivered, the better Eastern European deli near me closed quite a few years ago, they baked stuff on site.
I can get plenty of darker whole grain breads from some of the above sources I listed as well.
Though saying that French styles breads aren't good may get you in trouble with a huge swath of the world! There isn't a "quality" difference between fresh made baguettes and any other styles of bread, at that point it is down to preferences. I wouldn't call anything fresh made at a local bakery "not good bread." I may not prefer it, but that doesn't make it low quality.
Nutrition, of course, is separate discussion!
Now if you want something legit to complain about in America, talk about deli meats. Boar's Head has an almost complete monopoly over deli meats, especially on the west coast. I have to travel to, at minimum, Chicago, before the corned beef starts getting good.
Likewise with cheeses. Each major area of the country likely has a local dairy making cheese, and I used to think those cheeses were a-ok, after all, local dairy and all that. Travelling a bit made me realize how not-so-good most cheeses, outside of the artisanal ones, sold in America are.
On the flip side, ok-quality cheese also trends in price towards being dirt cheap, and "not-so-ok" quality cheese is dirt cheap.
Remember that a huge part of the United States was settled by Germans.
The bread in Copenhagen was fantastic, though.
Yes USA can have bread just as good as in France but it's considered in the tails of the distribution while in France it's considered near the mode.
I think there's sometimes a tendency among Europeans in particular to write off all American food as being essentially the same as the most iconically awful brands we have over here: Wonder bread, Velveeta cheese, Hershey's milk chocolate, Bud Light beer. And that's just not true.
I'm sort of inspired by Vox's article on the "boring lunch" here to start packing simple sandwiches again, which I haven't done in years. If I do, I'm probably going to be able to get pretty good bread, butter, cheese, and meats -- they're just not that hard to get here.
Having the good stuff suffusing your daily life rather than being a specific thing you need to go get makes a difference in your relationship to the food. It’s just easier. It’s not a decision you make, it becomes a default thing you get.
The old school sliced white loaf in a bag that was very popular in the 1960s has been in decline for at least a few decades. I rarely see it anymore.
That must be a new development. I lived in Norway until 2002 and have eaten my fair share of matpacker and the bread with definitely very mediocre unless you where willing to pay ~$10 at a decent bakery. Otherwise it was Kneip, Loff or frozen baguettes , neither which can really be called "good".
But in general I agree with you. Good bread with lots of butter is amazing.