Most Americans have had little exposure to Swedish food beyond whatever they happened to eat to stave off a blood sugar crash at their local behemoth furniture retailer. Not that there’s anything wrong with IKEA meatballs (minus that whole horse meat thing) — it’s just that you’ve got options to work with if you’re keen on organizing a Swedish dinner party. Ready, set, kanelbulle!
Cozy things are very Scandinavian, and few things are cozier than spiced mulled wine on a winter’s day (or summer’s day. I mean honestly, treat yourself). The Swedish version of this is called glögg, which is often a combination of red wine, raisins, almonds and spices like cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. Here’s a glögg recipe that allows for the addition of optional aquavit.
Appetizer: Kavring Crostini With Gravlax
When it comes to Swedish food, the most quintessential of quintessential meals is the smörgåsbord, which is a buffet-style spread of typical hot and cold dishes that are very frequently served with bread. The word smörgås literally translates to “sandwich” (and usually an open-faced one). When it comes to bread and things you can put on it, few things are more Swedish than kavring, a type of soft rye bread that’s slightly sweetened with syrup, and gravlax, or salmon cured with dill and sugar that’s typically served with mustard sauce. If you’re feeling fancy, here’s a recipe for beet-cured gravlax with kavring, cucumber, radish and lemon verbena.
Main Course: Swedish Meatballs
Did you think this article wasn’t going to be about meatballs? There are other entrees that scream “Swedish food,” like Jansson’s temptation (a potato and anchovy casserole) or poached salmon and dill potatoes. But Sweden just so happens to be a lot more famous for its meatballs. Try this meatball recipe that incorporates lingonberry sauce, made from tart red berries that go with just about anything.
Dessert: Cardamom Bread
I have to admit, I might be biased due to my enduring passion for the cardamom bread at my local Swedish coffee shop. But in Sweden, taking a fika (a coffee break that often involves pastries) is basically synonymous with breathing. Typical pastries include a kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) or cardamom bread. Here’s a recipe that combines the best of both worlds.
Key Swedish Phrases
I’m hungry — Jag är hungrig
I’m full — Jag är mätt
Please — Tack
Thank you — Tack (yep, again)
You’re welcome — Varsågod
Enjoy your meal — Smaklig måltid!
It was delicious — Det var jättegott