Sweden is probably not really known for its food. It’s beautiful people, its tennis players, and its cars; yes… food not so much. But for me some of my fondest memories of Sweden are around food and every time I recreate the dish it evokes great moments from my time spent in this Nordic country.
1. Peppakaka – aka Swedish Gingerbread
A wonderfully spiced biscuit that is so much more than just gingerbread. It’s not Christmas for me if I haven’t made at least one batch. They make great gifts for people, keep well and are very easy to make.
I’m pretty sure that these are a staple dish in most Swedish homes. There is something about the cardamom in the dough, combined with the cinnamon sugar that makes these the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee. I’ve made hundreds of them over the years, from scratch with no machines, to making a few hundred in one go with one of my best friends for her wedding in Canada. I’ve snacked on them in -30c in the depths of a Swedish winter, and my very latest adventure was trying my hand at a very fancy plaited loaf which was just as delicious as the traditional snail shapes.
Somehow Swedish meatballs are probably the best version that I’ve tried. It’s got nothing to do with the chef on the muppets and everything to do with the spices and that little bit of cream soaking the breadcrumbs I think. Light, simple to make, these are another staple that the Swedes are famous for. Served with some potato’s and a little bit of lingon sylt (like cranberry sauce), they were a regular part of my Swedish diet.
4. Kalle’s Kaviar
If you ask my Swedish family they will tell you I was obsessed with this stuff when I lived in Sweden. It’s salty flavor, combined with some cheese or an egg was my way of living in a foreign country and not being able to get Vegemite regularly. Truth is even with the fishy flavor I just loved the taste and it wasn’t a new one to me. Celebrating Lucia in December with family friends, Kaviar on egg was always a staple dish on the smorgasbord. If I see it here in Australia I buy myself a tube as a treat, although it’s getting harder and harder to find since Ikea stopped importing it.
Thin milk chocolate coated almond toffee… do I need to say more? Again getting super tough to find in Australia since Ikea stopped importing it, but for Australians, I know in Brisbane its still possible to get it at the Chocolate Moments – World of Chocolate in the Brisbane Arcade and in Melbourne the Swedish Church is always a great source of real Swedish food.
Spiced wine, cold days and nights, warm open fire…. Thing is, this is actually my memory of Sweden before I’d even visited the place. One of our closest family friends would make this every year with her lucikatte (saffron buns) & peppakaka for us to celebrate Lucia together. Celebrated on the 10th of December it would truely mark the coming of Christmas for me; the smells of the spices baking, the warm spiced wine, the flavours of the food, and the hilarious and wonderful memories of our families together.
7. Dill…. with everything
Chips, potato’s, fish…. even just the smell of fresh dill reminds me of Sweden. Too much of the stuff and the flavour can get almost peppery, but with the right touch, it can transform a dish into something divine.
What foods do you eat (or covet) that remind you of countries you’ve visited or lived?
Happy Memories & Happy Eating,