Spanish paella and Gro Hammerseng

The story: How Gro Hammerseng gave me the opportunity to work in Norway. 

By Cristina B. Santisteban

In 2009 the Spanish recession became a reality, and archaeology started to be one of the most affected sectors. Nowadays 66% of the archaeologists in Spain have lost their jobs or the opportunity to have projects to work in.

In the middle of all this turmoil, in January 2011, my partner and I took a trip to Oslo. The main reason was to enjoy a women’s handball match in Larvik and to meet the Norwegian handball star Gro Hammerseng. We arrived at the worst moment, during the full winter with the streets covered by snow and the temperature around -8 ºC below zero. That night we spent in Larvik was awful because of a big snow storm. Despite the snow, we managed to arrive at the stadium and share the match with the rest of the Larvik HK followers. At the end of the match we had the opportunity to talk with Gro Hammerseng, who was very accommodating and sweet. We gave her a scarf of F.C Barcelona, our team, and a CD with Spanish songs. Our mission was accomplished!


Apart from handball, as archaeologists we like to visit museums. Back in Oslo we had visited several museums. One of these museums was the amazing Viking Ship Museum. Apart from the ships and other fantastic finds, upstairs was a little exhibition that explained the findings from one specific project.

When we returned home we took a look at the pictures of this exhibition. In one of the photographs we could read the name Vestfold Fylkeskommune printed on the yellow vest of one of the field archaeologists. As a joke, but at the same time thinking about the situation in Spain, I decided to send my CV to that place. A few days later a woman from Vestfold replied to me saying that they didn’t have job for me, but at the same time, she encourage me to send my application to the University Oslo Museum and to the University Bergen Museum. A few minutes later she sent me a second e-mail with the forms to apply. Given this weird situation and the kindness of this stranger, who was taking time out of her busy day to try to help me, I decided to apply. I want use these lines to send my gratitude to Viveke Lea, again.

A few months later I got an offer for my first job in Norway with Bergen Museum. I could work “in the middle of nowhere” according to my field leader in Austefjord, Volda Kommune for five weeks. I arrived in Norway to work in May of 2011. In December the archaeology company where I was working the last 12 years closed, we could resist the recession. So without really planning the events that unfolded, our trip to Norway and my partner’s interest in handball and especially for Gro Hammerseng, opened the door to visit Norway, get a job there and help me to survive the strong and long Spanish recession the next years. At the same time, I was given the opportunity to make good friends, and of course, that is where I meet Colin. Thank you too, Gro!

The project: Årset Fv. 655, Volda Kommune, Møre og Romsdal Fylke.

The planned improvements to the road Fv. 655 required the Fylke to investigate the area of proposed construction. Their investigation results revealed two interesting places to dig in the surroundings of Austefjord. The excavation was conducted by the University Bergen Museum with Trond Lødøen as the project leader and Birgitte Bjørkli as field leader. The rest of the team was composed for four field assistants, Anja Melvaer, Tanja Larssen, Therese Marie Edman and myself. We spend five weeks documenting two different places, Humberset and Hunnes, the names of the two farms which lands would be affected by the new road.


At the first site we opened up two areas in Humberest and excavated following the appropriate methodology for a small stone age site. Not a lot of finds were recovered just a few pieces of flint debitage and some tools, but we could confirm the activity in that place centuries ago and document the evolution of the sea levels.


In Hunnes, we opened up another area where we documented a cooking pit field dated from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age.



We excavated in the area for five weeks in constant fog and rainy weather. I must admit for me this weather was a big shock. For Norwegians it is normal for them to work in this weather. They are used to it and they have it very often, but for a Mediterranean person who is use to the sun having five weeks without sun was hard.

Anyway, the nice atmosphere on the project and the daily meals together made for a fantastic time where we could share parts of our culture through the different dishes. Through cooking and sharing these meals we became friends and I discovered the taste of Norway and I tried to show them the taste of my home. The possibility to make almost proper paella in a proper pan (one of the most important things in that dish) helped me in my objective. Those on the project and the field leader were passionate about Spain. Trond provided me the perfect pan that he bought in Barcelona to cook the rice. So we only needed to try!!!


The recipe: Spanish paella

Paella is one of the most popular dishes in Spain. The name comes from the special pan that we use. It is round, flat, and big. This dish is very popular in the Valencia county. But you can eat paella in all of Spain, in all the houses, where there are different interpretations and versions of the same dish. You can add or try different products until you find what is best for you. The most common types are seafood paella, the meat paella or a combination of meat and seafood. Everyone has their own recipe. I will show you my family’s recipe.

The important thing is the base. Then you can add anything you want and make your own recipe with the ingredients from your own country, example: salmon, artichokes, cod, beans, green beans, etc..

Ingredients (4 people)

500 gr. of rice (Short grain rice)

1 red pepper and 1 green Italian pepper

3 or 4 ripe tomatoes

1 onion

3 garlic cloves

Fresh parsley, salt, olive oil and saffron (or instead substitute colourant with turmeric)

Water and bullion (optional).

Seafood paella: Fresh Seafood (mussels, squid, unpeeled shrimps and shells).

In Norway I used shrimp and salmon to make a seafood. It worked. The result was a new type of paella, Norwegian style!

Meet paella: Pork and chicken is common but so is rabbit.

Mix paella: You can combine the ingredients described in the previous two recipes with chicken, pork, shrimp, mussels,* and squid.

*Boil the mussels first then reserve the warm water then add saffron.

If you are not using mussels combine water with saffron, the bullion (optional), and broth in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat. The quantity of the liquid is normally double of the quantity of rice. You also can use fish or meat consommé, which is tastier than the water.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large paella pan or large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, sauté 2 minutes and remove from the pan. Add the squid, sauté until almost cooked and remove from the pan. Do the same with the meat, cook around 5 minutes, if you are using that. If you are using both meat and seafood, fry first the meat and then the seafood.

In the same oil and pan reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onion, the peppers, the tomatoes and 3 garlic cloves, all chopped really small. Cook around 5-10 minutes until all is cooked. Add salt, parsley and remove a little, and taste, correct the salt taste. Then add the rice, and cook for 2 minute, stirring constantly. Add to the mix the squid or the meat (or what combination you have chosen). Add the water that you had been warming.

Bring to a low boil for about 10-15 minutes. Add the shrimp and mussels with just half the shell. Try to make a nice decoration on the top of the rice then cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat, cover with a kitchen towel, and let stand between 5-10 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.


To round out this meal choose a good Spanish red wine or a good beer. A crusty baguette and a light salad goes well too. Then you only have to enjoy the meal!!!

Jambalaya in the Arctic

Jambayala in the Arctic

By Colin P. Amundsen

In 2003 I was working on my PhD project in Finnmark, Norway. Finnmark lies well above the Arctic Circle. It’s an extreme landscape filled with fantastic nature and colorful people. The project was located in a tiny fishing village of Berlevåg on the coast of the Barents Sea. It was August in northern Norway and by all accounts it was suppose to be the best time of year to be in the polar north but in reality it rained nearly everyday. Sometimes it was a light rain, sometimes heavy, and on one or two occasions it actually rained sideways.


The sites we were investigating were the Skonsvika and Kongshavn sites located just outside of town. These sites were multi-room structures of various room numbers and dimensions. The project I was apart of was a multidisciplinary project investigating these structures and their historical connection. We were a team of archaeologists, zooarchaeologists, soil scientists, and botanists.


The multi-room houses appear along the coastline of the Barents Sea, specifically from Skjervøy in northern Troms county, Norway, to the Kola Peninsula in Russia around AD 1200 until the height of their use by the mid-15th century. A total of 33 structures have been identified with the majority of the sites located in Finnmark, Norway.

From c. AD 1200 to 1500 Finnmark was the main area of concern between the Norwegian state and the principality of Novgorod for trade, taxation/tribute and settlement expansion. The cultural landscape was an interface of western (Norwegian) and eastern (Russian) cultures, both of which were connected economically and politically to the local indigenous population, the Sámi. It was during this tumultuous period of time that the multi-room sites emerged on this heterogeneous cultural landscape as satellite settlements for the lucrative trans-North Atlantic trade network.

The recipe: Jambalaya in the Artic.

It was really challenging to find many of the ingredients for this recipe in Berlevåg but I managed with a little imagination. For the shrimp I used the local kreps or spiney lobster but now when I make this recipe I use northern shrimp whole. The shell on shrimp add an extra flavor. With regard to the chicken I used chicken breast but I think meat on the bone adds a lot more savory flavor to the entire dish.

Ingredients (serves 4)

A handful of local shrimp unpeeled (I avoid imported shrimp for this recipe I used northern Shrimp)

4 chicken thighs on the bone

2 tablespoons of butter

1 medium onion chopped

1 chopped green bell pepper

2 to 3 stocks of celery chopped

2 to 4 whole garlic cloves

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

3 bay leaves

A couple of slices of bacon chopped

1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

3/4 cup rice

3 cups chicken stock

2 to 3 Andouille sausage, sliced (or any spicy sausage)

Salt and pepper


2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme


In a large pot melt the butter and add the bacon. Fry until crispy and then remove. Add chicken and brown on both sides then remove. Next add sausage and brown then remove. Then add the onion, pepper and celery, sauté for 3 minutes. Next add in garlic cloves, tomatoes, bay leaves, hot sauce, and seasoning. At this point the meat should be added for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through. Then add the rice and broth. Let it come to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cook until rice is tender, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. When rice is done add shrimp and stir in. Cook for a few minutes or until shrimp is done and adjust the seasoning to your liking.