Kompe on My Mind
19 May 2021
Globalized culture means that cultural values and artifacts move easily across cultural boundaries, and so it is fitting that Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell's song "Georgia on my mind" introduces "kompe".
Greyish in color, actually looking like West African "fo fo" (which I do not like, and that is putting it mildly), kompe is not much to look at, consisting largely of potato and flour. Not much of a taste either, if you ask the uninitiated.
But ask a "Sørlending" (people, like myself, who hail from Norway's southernmost coastal region), and you will hear a very different story. It is all in our upbringing, our socialization into the local food culture, and our approach to eating this dish. What make or brake it, is what come with it (including meat inside or not, and what you drink with it). Locals have endless discussions on the merit of whether to use, for example, melted butter or not, and recount famous mythical stories of the time they downed 10 (or was it 16?) kompe.
When I travel abroad, I can bring along the (in)famous (depending on your point of view) Norwegian brown cheese, originally made from only goatmilk. Kompe is a different story altrogether, as they don't travel well. So, it's essential to stock up on tastes and memories prior to traveling (as now, when I shortly will travel to Bulgaria for work). An otherwise interesting food culture, Bulgaria has yet to appreciate the art of making and eating kompe. –my ancestors the Vikings, who made forays into Bulgaria, didn't manage to convince them – peacefully or otherwise – of the superior food that kompe is.
To dig further into world culture, it is not at all apt to argue that "to eat kompe or not, that is the question". It is actually appropriate, considering that Hamlet's Elsinore (Kronborg Castle) to a large extent was built from stone plundered from destroyed Ultima Thulean monasteries and churches, courtesy the Danish colonial power. Hamlet likely traveled to these lands, and he for sure ate kompe before returning to Kronborg castle. In this way he contributed to spreading kompe to the world!
(1) Image credit: Lars Soeftestad
(2) Relevant Devblog articles: "Devblog om Agder" (reviews and links to all articles about Agder) at: https://devblog.no/no/article/devblog-om-agder
(3) Permalink: https://devblog.no/en/article/kompe-my-mind
(4) This article was published 19 May 2021. It was revised 8 November 2021.