The way to cultural understanding and friendship is through our stomachs. This was aptly practiced and proven by Oyvind Strokke, Norwegian ambassador to the Kingdom, who organized a major gastronomic opportunity to taste a range of Norwegian cuisine in Riyadh. The menu was carefully designed to represent the flavors of Norwegian seafood.
“This inclusive, engaging aspect of food works to create bridges of understanding,” said Strokke, who hosted the lavish dinner at his residence recently. “Norway is the second largest seafood producer in the world with its total volume amounting to 34 million meals of seafood prepared every day. The seafood export to Saudi Arabia increased as much as 42 percent last year.
“Promoted as healthy and tasty food, more and more seafood from Norway is now served at the dining tables of Saudi families,” said the diplomat, referring to the abundant supply of Norwegian salmon, mackerel, sea bass and other species in supermarkets across the Kingdom. To mark this positive development, the ambassador said he hosted the special seafood dinner to further educate people about Norwegian seafood.
The invited guests included several hoteliers, chefs, food importers and market players. “You are a test panel tonight,” Stokke told his guests. “My chef Roshan Pradeep has made some new dishes he will try out … they are quite easy to cook, look delicious and taste like a deep, clear Norwegian fjord.”
Another chef, Ashraf Mahdy, presented the dishes for the guests, explaining how they were made.
Also among the guests were the President of the Saudi Arabian Chefs’ Association, Yassir Jad, and TV presenter and chef Gary McKenna, who said: “I am so pleased that the Middle East marketplace is now recognizing that there is no substitute for the best quality Norwegian fish.”
Stokke also launched new brochures for the Norwegian Seafood Council in Arabic and English, with recipes for easy ways to prepare dishes of salmon and cod.
The dinner party was a success, with a friendly and down-to-earth atmosphere in which people had the chance to take photos, discuss food, get new ideas and make valuable contacts. Stokke plans to arrange more dinners with a similar concept, strengthening the brand of Norwegian seafood toward the Saudi HORECA exhibition in November, when a solid Norwegian delegation will visit Riyadh.