Åpning Nordic Feast London

Næringsminister Monica Mæland, London 19. oktober 2017

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends of Nordic culture and food,

As Norwegian minister for trade and hereby the current leader of the Nordic Council of Ministers for business, let me start to give a thank you to the eight Nordic visit organizations for bringing us together, communicating in the global language of food.

It is said that the way to a man's or a woman's heart goes through the stomach.

I would say that the Nordic countries already have a place in the British hearts - and vice versa.

  • We share a long history, over one thousand years of influencing each other. We gave you "hygge", and you gave us Twinings to go with the "hygge".
  • Today, Britain is one of the Nordic countries' most important trading partner, ranging from services, high-tech to providing the fish to the chips.
  • And not least, we have longstanding traditions in tourism. Every year the Nordic countries welcome British tourist seeking unique nature experiences such as the aurora borealis and maybe, to try our great Nordic culinary tastes.

The last four years we have seen more tourists from Britain to our countries, and Iceland seems to be the winner with a staggering 176 % increase!

I do not believe you all go to Iceland to taste the rotten shark or to sip Svartadaudir, so I will guess we all have something to learn from Iceland, especially when it comes to branding and promoting.

And to some of us – sorry for bringing it up - we have something to learn about football too.

Speaking of English football, this is also one of many reasons for the increasing visits from our countries to Britain.

In fact, one former Norwegian football player on Liverpool, Stig Inge Bjørnebye said: "Norwegians have a more passionate relationship to English football than to their own wives".

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Today we are celebrating that passion and strong bonds between our nations, and I hope we will strengthen them further.

The Nordic countries are more than just Nordic noir and "hygge", we are diverse countries with unique local produces and tastes: From the Finnish lake fish, blueberries and taste for all thing liquorice, the Swedish Västerbotten cheese, surströmming and crayfish, the Norwegian cod, brown cheese and lamb, to the Danish patés, gløgg and smørrebrød.

This is why this event is important not just promoting our great nature, but also displaying the diverse and delicious Nordic food!  The Nordic countries offers something for nearly every palate, – which you all may taste here at the Great Nordic Feast.

I also hope the feast displays the Nordic coolness, a term used by former US president Barack Obama, when he welcomed the five Nordic heads of state last year. It was one of the most peaceful and agreeing meeting ever held at the White House during his period.

Here at the Southbank Center, this coolness comes in a culinary form, combining Nordic food traditions with new ways of preparing them:

  • Such as Swedish Niklas Ekstedt, the man behind the innovative cooking-with-fire-concept.
  • The groundbreaking Norwegian chef, Heidi Bjerkan, the woman behind Vippa, the newest culinary hotspot and a must-see for foodies in Oslo.
  • Or, the Danish food stylist, Mette Hellbaek, who is running a restaurant without electricity deep in the Swedish forest.

This, dear guests, and much more is what you may taste and experience during the next days, so I hope you will enjoy your meal, get inspired and we will see you on your next vacation in one, or more of the Nordic destinations.

Thank you!