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Swedish food culture

Learn about Swedish culture

The most important thing about Swedish meatballs (köttbullar) is that they are made with love. This is why "Mama's meatballs" are so popular in Sweden, and there are many different ways to make them. In southern Sweden, many people prefer to make meatballs with fatty meat fillings, but the further north you go, the less pork you'll find in the meatballs. However, the milk-soaked bread or breadcrumbs are just as important as the lingonberries used as a side dish, which give the Swedish meatballs their particularly fluffy consistency.

Shrimp sandwiches and other open sandwiches

When you order a sandwich, don't be surprised to see only a slice of bread. The concept of the open sandwich dates back to the 15th century when people used thick bread as a dinner plate. In Sweden, the shrimp sandwich (räksmörgås) is still one of the king's royal choices. The seafood snack is topped high with sliced hard-boiled eggs, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, and often topped with creamy "romsås" - a whipped cream mixture of dill and roe. Shrimp sandwiches are such an important part of Swedish culture that they have even given rise to the popular saying "glida in på en räkmacka" (literally, "sliding in on a shrimp sandwich", which is actually the same as (literally "sliding in on a shrimp sandwich", which actually corresponds to the word "piece of cake"), meaning that a task or activity can be accomplished without much effort.

Swedish crispbread - what is your favorite thing to put on top?     

Besides bread and butter, you will often find a type of crispbread called "knäckebröd" next to your main course. Once considered a poor man's food, crispbread has been baked in Sweden for more than 500 years and, if properly preserved, will stay good for at least a year, making it one of the most versatile foods today. in the 1970s, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare launched a campaign recommending that Swedes eat six to eight slices of bread a day, including crispbread. Crunchy bread comes in a variety of shapes, thicknesses and flavors and can take up an entire shelf in a store. The crispbread can be served with a variety of foods: sliced hard-boiled eggs or caviar squeezed out of a tube for breakfast, ham, cheese and cucumber slices for lunch, and plain butter for dinner.

Lingonberries are "versatile"     

Like ketchup and mustard, lingonberry sauce is used as an accompaniment to a wide variety of dishes: from meatballs to pancakes, from oatmeal to blood pudding. However, despite its sweetness, lingonberry sauce is rarely used to spread bread. With a "public right of passage" where everyone is free to enjoy natural resources, many Swedes grew up picking lingonberries in the woods and making jam from the tiny red fruits.

Princess cakes - a royal treat     

The bright green prinsesstårta (princess cake), decorated with bright pink sugar roses on top, is an ever-present Swedish favorite in bakery windows throughout Sweden. A multi-layered yellow sponge cake with jam and vanilla cream cake in the middle, topped with thick cream and carefully wrapped in a thin layer of green marzipan. The princess cake is a latecomer to Swedish culinary history, having been pioneered by Jenny Åkerström in the 1920s. Today, princess cakes have evolved in a variety of colors - from the classic bright green to yellow for Easter, red for Christmas, orange for Halloween, pink and blue for christening parties, and white for weddings.

Crazy about crawfish     

Crawfish parties (kräftskivor) are popular in August. On warm summer evenings, people all over Sweden enjoy these small red freshwater crustaceans in their gardens or on their balconies. 16th-century crawfish was only available to Sweden's upper-class citizens and nobility, but today it is a Swedish delicacy that is available to everyone and has been imported in large quantities over the centuries, significantly reducing its price.

Pickled herring - the heart of a Swedish buffet

You may replace meatballs (köttbullar) with mini sausages (prinskorv) or smoked salmon with cured salmon (gravad lax), but you can't have a Swedish buffet without pickled herring (sill). Because this popular Swedish dish has always been the basis of the typical Swedish buffet. Herring is abundant in both the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, so the Swedes have had a tradition of pickling herring since the Middle Ages, mainly for the purpose of storing and transporting herring. Pickled herring comes in a variety of flavors -- mustard, shallot, garlic, dill -- and is often served with boiled potatoes, sour cream, minced shallot, hard, pungent cheese, sometimes hard-boiled eggs, and, of course, Swedish crispy noodles!

Saturday Sweets (Lördagsgodis)     

An average family of two adults and two children consumes 1.2 kilograms of candy per week - mostly on Saturdays - on Candy Day. The main purpose of this weekly tradition is to protect people's teeth against tooth decay. From a historical point of view, it has its origins in a controversial medical practice. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Vipeholm Psychiatric Hospital in Lund used its patients in a series of human experiments for research purposes, making them eat large amounts of candy that deliberately caused tooth decay. Based on its 1957 findings that there was a direct causal link between sweets and tooth decay, the health board recommended that Swedes eat candy only once a week - a tradition that many families in Sweden still adhere to today.

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