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Sweden Cuisine


Swedish cuisine tends to be hearty, practical and sustaining. There are large regional variations in the cuisine in Sweden, but most dishes are traditionally simple. In the north, some variations, including reindeer, and other game dishes, have their roots in the Sami people while in the south, historically the supply of fresh vegetables has been better and the traditions are in large parts very similar to many other European cuisines.

Swedes have traditionally been very open to foreign influences, ranging from French cuisine during the 17th and 18th century, to the sushi and cafe latte of today. Many Swedish restaurateurs mix traditional husmanskost with a modern, gourmet approach. On the fast food side, the pizza has been an integral part of swedish culture since the 1960s. Twenty years later, the same could be said about kebab and falafel, as many small restaurants specialise in such dishes

The importance of fish has governed Swedish population and trade patterns far back in history. For preservation, fish were salted and salt became a major trade item at the dawn of the Scandinavian middle ages, which began circa 1000 AD. Cabbage, preserved as sauerkraut, or lingonberry jam was used as a source of vitamin C during the winter. Lingonberry jam, still a favourite, also added some freshness to the often rather heavy food.

Typical Dishes

In August, Swedes traditionally eat boiled crayfish at feasts known as kräftskivor. The most highly regarded mushroom is the chanterelle. It is considered a real treat. The chanterelle is usually served together with a piece of meat, or just fried with a sauce and some onions and put on a sandwich. Second to the chanterelle, and considered almost as delicious, is the porcini mushroom, or Karl-Johansvamp named after Charles XIV John (Karl XIV Johan) who introduced its use as food.

Internationally, the most renowned Swedish meal is meatballs, or köttbullar.

Traditionally, Thursday has been soup day because the maids had half the day off and it was easy to prepare. One of the most traditional Swedish soups is the pea soup, or ärtsoppa. It dates back to the old tradition of peas being associated with Thor. This is a simple meal, basically consisting of yellow peas, a little onion and often pieces of pork. It is often served with a little mustard and followed by thin pancakes. The Swedish Army still serve their conscripts pea soup and pancakes every Thursday.

Potatoes are the main complement to most dishes. Only in the last 50 years have other complements such as rice and spaghetti become standard on the dinner table. There are several different kinds of potatoes: the most appreciated is the new potato, which ripens in early summer, and is enjoyed at the feast called Midsummer. Other sorts of potatoes are eaten all year around.

Other traditional Swedish dishes:

  • Ärtsoppa:
    Pea soup. 
  • Blodpudding:
    Black pudding. 
  • Falukorv: Sausage originating from Falun. The lifts and pumps at the Kopparberg copper mine in Falun were, during the 16th and 17th centuries before the introduction of steam engines, powered by oxen. When these oxen died from strain or old age, the skin was turned into leather ropes used in the mine, and some of the meat was turned into Falukorv sausages. 
  • Fiskbullar 
  • Gravad lax:
    Salmon, salted and cured. 
  • Inkokt lax
  • Isterband: Sausage made of coarsely ground pork, barley and potatoes 
  • Janssons frestelse (Jansson's temptation): Grated potatoes, onion, anchovy and cream – the anchovy here is not the genuine anchovy, but the sprat – quite a different species and is also spiced.
  • Julbord: Christmas smorgasbord (smörgåsbord). 
  • Julskinka: Christmas ham. 
  • Kaviar: Swedish caviar comes in tubes and is typically made from cod roe. 
  • Kalops

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