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‘Officer Norway’ shares foods of home country

UCHS SRO Kjell Michelsen, a native of Norway, and his wife, Hollie, prepared and shared holiday foods from Michelsen’s home country for students as part of the first Taste of Norway event at the school. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

The smells of a far-away home filled the air at the Unicoi County High School commons area on Monday morning thanks to SRO Kjell Michelsen.

Michelsen, who hails from Norway and is affectionately known as “Officer Norway” by UCHS students, presented them with Norwegian dishes that he ate growing up during his 1st Annual Taste of Norway event.

Some of the dishes sampled by the students and staff at UCHS were Norwegian waffles, brown cheese, Norwegian fish balls with curry sauce, Norwegian Pepper Cookies, LingonBerry jam, Cloudberry jam and Norwegian Christmas sausage served with Norwegian ketchup and Norwegian mustard.

Michelsen, who also writes a column for The Erwin Record, was joined by his wife, Hollie, in preparing the sampling of Norwegian food.

“We started cooking at around 9:30 a.m. today,” Hollie said. “Kjell started making the waffle batter around 4:30 a.m.”

For Michelsen, this is a way to give back but also to remind him of his heritage.

“It’s great for the students to have a chance to experience Norwegian food,” Kjell Michelsen said. “This also gives me a chance to remember authentic Norwegian Christmas dishes.”

According to Michelsen, the Norwegian Christmas sausage is very specific to Christmas, while the other food is offered year-round.

“The sausages are classic Christmas dishes. We don’t usually serve them in a bun. You can serve them with roasted pork; it’s kind of a part of a bigger meal,” Kjell said. “The waffles are a traditional breakfast food and are a little thinner than the Belgian waffles.”

The brown cheese, which gets its color from the caramelization of sugars present in the goat’s milk, is a sweet cheese.

“It’s not unusual for a Norwegian to take a thin slice and put it in their coffee,” Michelsen said.

According to Hollie, Norwegians enjoy sweetness in their diet.

“Even the Norwegian mustard has sugar in it,” Hollie said.

Michelsen acknowledged that the fish balls take a little time preparing.

“We take regular whitefish, either cod or haddock, and mix the fish with egg, flour and spices in a food processor,” Michelsen said. “They make the mixture into little balls and you can fry them to make fish cakes or you steam them to make fish balls.”

According to Michelsen, the Second Annual Taste of Norway will be expanded to include more dishes.

“I first started wanting to serve the waffles, but quickly added more dishes,” Michelsen said. “Next year, I’m going to get an earlier start and prepare more dishes.”