Every time I’ve talked to people here about food they have almost always mentioned Swedish meatballs and lutfisk. It’s kind of fun to hear other people talk about this but I figured that I should dig a little deeper into the Swedish food culture for you all. First off, we do love Swedish meatballs. But these are made in a different way than you might think. We use ground beef, onions, eggs, and salt but the key ingredient is white pepper (we also use this spice for meat and mashed potatoes). These ingredients are just all mixed together, fried, and served with a brown or white sauce. It is usually also served with boiled potatoes, vegetables and sometimes lingon berry jam. Boiled potatoes are served with almost everything and are considered what we call “Husmanskost,” which is just a word for a simple and ordinary home-cooked meal.
We do eat a lot of meat and one of the sausages that is pretty traditional is the Falukorv (korv means sausage in Swedish). It is named after the city that it came from in the county/state of Dalarna. We also make a stew with this sausage. Something Scandinavians do that often disgusts people is the tendency to put ketchup on pasta. This is because we use ketchup more than we use tomato sauce. But, of course it depends on what the pasta is mixed with.
Just like the United States, we like to eat a lot on holidays. Two of our biggest holidays are Midsummer (June) and Christmas. On Christmas, there are large assortments of foods, combined with bread, cheese, and salads. There is usually “Janssons frestelse” which is a dish made out of onions, cream, anchovies and cut up potatoes. Then there is the raw fish that comes in different sauces called “lutfisk” or “sill.” I don’t know a lot of people who eat that but strangely enough it is always there. Instead of turkey, our huge piece of meat in the middle of the table is usually a ham.
For dessert there is, of course, the traditional porridge made from rice, cinnamon, milk and salt served with a sweet red sauce. Swedish people put an almond in it and the one who gets the almond is granted a wish. Swedish people also put an almond outside for the Christmas gnomes that are believed to help out around the farm. This is what we do instead of milk and cookies for Santa.
As I said, our second traditional day for food is Midsummer’s Day in June. People gather during this day to drink and eat all kinds of food. We might eat boiled summer potatoes with dill and barbecued steaks but later in the summer crayfish season starts and people gather these as well.
During my visit to the US, I also found myself at IKEA in Portland one day, which was a very funny experience. Although I did see some things that we do eat a lot in Sweden, it was fun to see moose shaped pasta. But anyway, first up the shrimp sandwich (that I personally could not live with out) is a very Swedish thing. Then, of course, candy like Bilar, Kex chocklad (chocolate) and the dry bread we love so much called Knäckebröd are very common Swedish foods. Ikea has all of these so be sure to go and try all these out. This is just a small part of what we eat, of course.
Hope you learned something!