In Norway, ‘Texas’ Is Slang for ‘Crazy’

Norway may not seem to have much in common with Texas, but when Norwegians want to express how wild and outrageous something is, they go straight for this state-based euphemism.
Texas longhorns in a grassy field.
Texas longhorns in a grassy field. / codyphotography/E+/Getty Images

The Norwegian word gal translates as “crazy” in English. However, citizens of the Nordic nation have adopted a more unconventional slang term to describe something that’s unpredictable, chaotic, exhilarating, or simply scary—“texas.”

According to Texas Monthly, Norwegians have used the state-inspired expression for several decades now. It’s meant to conjure the place’s rough-and-tumble history—cowboys, lassos, outlaws—and all the wild associations that go along with it.

As used in Norway, the term isn’t capitalized, and it’s employed as an adjective to conjure an atmosphere—meaning you wouldn’t be calling a person “texas,” but rather a situation or event. Instead of saying “That party was totally crazy,” you’d say “det var helt texas,” or “it was completely texas.”

To prove that “texas” is truly widespread terminology in Norway, Texas Monthly dredged up several news articles in which the state name is used to describe everything from truck drivers on dangerous routes to a wild soccer game to a rare swordfish caught in a fjord. And though that fish bit would most likely only happen in Norway, it’s interesting to see a word that’s so American be used to describe such a culturally foreign act.

A Texas Tradition

Texas isn’t the only Southwestern signifier in Norwegian culture: Norwegian families gather around the dining table for fredagstaco, loosely translating to “taco Fridays,” to celebrate the national craze for the Tex-Mex classic. According to the Norwegian American newspaper, a 2012 survey found that more than 400,000 Norwegians, or about 8 percent of the country’s population, regularly participate in fredagstaco.

How did this unique phenomenon catch on in a country where dietary staples include fish and brown cheese? The act of gathering together and having everyone choose their own taco filings and toppings leaves everyone content, and “it is a social dish because one sits at the table longer and makes their own food,” Trond Svendgård, a chef with the traveling caterers Flying Culinary Circus, told the Norwegian American.

Norwegian tacos stray somewhat from the typical Tex-Mex ingredients, though. A recipe from New Scandinavian Cooking calls for a filling of pork, mushrooms, and fresh cabbage served in potato-based lefse (thin flatbread). Most Norwegians choose flour or whole-wheat tortillas (not the corn-based hard shells) and offer a variety of options, including shrimp salad or salmon, cucumbers, bell peppers, and corn along with the usual beef or chicken fillings for every family member to enjoy.

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