Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On Swedish Food

When you think of Swedish food, if you ever do, I suppose you think of ‘smörgåsbord’. In practice, it seemed to consist of different types of smoked or cured fish, and muffins. Possibly a few more days would have allowed a wider experience of Swedish cuisine, but the number of restaurants and cafés offering food from around the world suggests that, as in England, the tradition food is either not very good or is insufficiently varied to gratify, on its own, the tastes of all those who might be looking for a place to eat.

At Uppsala we ate in a genuine Swedish restaurant, just below the Cathedral, on the river, outdoors on a terrace. The menu was largely different types of cured fish done in a variety of imaginative ways. There are very few fish which are improved by curing, salting or smoking. That may be the problem with Swedish food. There is no longer any need to cure it. They can eat it fresh every day if they wish, but then the identity of their food culture would be lost, and there is nothing to replace it. The place was crowded, very popular. Obviously one of the places to be at the weekend, but I wonder how many Saturdays in the year you can sit out on the river.

I mention muffins because another thing we were told about Swedish eating habits is that they stop what they are doing at any opportunity for a ‘fika’, which apparently just means a snack, but usually takes the form of coffee and cakes. The Swedes have a reputation as an efficient, hard-working people, and they have certainly built a wealthy society. They must get it all done between the coffee breaks.

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