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Food guru on Rep. King tweet: Feasting on reindeer 'totally normal' in Norway

By Josh Levs, CNN
updated 2:25 PM EST, Wed December 25, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rep. Steve King tweets his reindeer meal from Oslo
  • It's "totally normal" for the region, CNN's food guru explains
  • Meat played a role in popularizing Christmas reindeer in the U.S.

(CNN) -- It may not fly with those imagining Santa with magical ones on Christmas Day, but a U.S. lawmaker decided to share with the world that one reindeer -- in part, anyway -- ended up on his plate.

"From Oslo, Merry Christmas season to my Scandinavian friends. 'Enjoyed' a meal of lutefisk, reindeer, & lefse," Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, tweeted.

Some commenters on Twitter and around the web were less than thrilled.

But making a meal of reindeer meat is actually "totally normal considering where he is," said food guru Kat Kinsman, who runs CNN's Eatocracy blog. "People eat this whenever it's in season, and Norway is host to a pretty robust wild reindeer population.

And if it was grown in the wild, "that's the most sustainably raised food that you can get," she added.

Meat actually played something of a role in popularizing the association of reindeer with Santa early last century, according to Laura Galloway, who wrote about the history for CNN.com. A businessman named Carl Lomen hoping to mass market reindeer meat worked with Macy's in 1926 to create a parade led by Santa and reindeer.

Though Lomen's campaign for reindeer meat never took off in the United States, "his marketing efforts unleashed a worldwide obsession with Santa and created a common narrative now known around the world, and even elaborated on," Galloway wrote.

In 1998, CNN's Patricia Kelly paid a Christmas Eve visit to Rovaniemi, Finland, where a tourist tradition claimed Santa liked to hang out. Reindeer meat was on the menu, she wrote, "if you can bear not to think about Rudolph, Dancer, and Prancer."

You might be enjoying a very different Christmas feast.

Enjoy!

CNN's Ted Winner contributed to this report.

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