Smalahove (also called Smalehovud or Skjelte) is a Norwegian traditional dish, usually eaten around and before Christmas time, made from a sheep's head. The skin and fleece of the head is torched, the brain removed, and the head is salted, sometimes smoked, and dried. The head is boiled for about 3 hours and served with mashed rutabaga and potatoes.
Originally, smalahove was eaten only by poor people, but in modern days it's considered to be a delicacy.
Since 1998, an EU directive forbids the production of smalahove from adult sheep , due to fear of the possibility of transmission of scrapie, a deadly, degenerative prion disease of sheep and goats, even though scrapie does not appear to be transmissible to humans. It is now only allowed to be produced from the heads of lambs.
Smalahove is considered by some to be unappealing or even repulsive. It is mostly enjoyed by enthusiasts, and is often served to tourists and braver visitors.
The Norwegian word hovud, hove means head. The word smale (indefinite, singular) is one word for sheep.
The ear and eye (one half of a head is one serving) are normally eaten first, as they are the fattiest area and must be eaten warm. The head is then eaten from the front to the back, working around the bones of the skull. The tongue and eye muscles are considered to be the best parts.