About the Food of Sweden

Delsbo, Photo by Calle Rosenqvist.

Delsbo, Photo by Calle Rosenqvist.

While I haven’t been to Sweden, I have dated a Swede. And that just might be everything, ever.

At least, when it comes to Swedish food.

The one thing about dating a genuine Swede, is that you might begin to think you’re in Sweden for the duration of the relationship; their national pride and is that strong.

Especially if he still lives with his mother.

Sånfjällets national park. Photo by Jonny Hansson

Sånfjällets national park. Photo by Jonny Hansson


And why not? This is a stunning land, full of thick, verdant forests, airy, breathtaking mountains, and the crunch of snow. With a land this grand, no wonder the appetite is whetted.

At the time Daniel and I were dating, back when we were impossibly young (18, if I remember correctly), he was, in fact living at home.

One of my first dinners at his house involved steak tartar, with a raw egg cracked over the top. Pungent horseradish gratings were piled on the side. I’m not sure I impressed anyone with my squeamish hesitation, which resulted in my complete avoidance of the tartar.

Breakfast, if I happened to be there so early, involved sliced cheese on top of buttered rye bread… rather like a mini smorgasbord. Sometimes, instead of cheese, he added salami, or a round of some other, obscure cold cut. For someone, like myself, who was used to cereal or French Toast in the morning, meat and cheese was quite the departure, especially for my sensitive nose.

Stadshus Stockholm. Photo by Evunji.

Stadshus Stockholm. Photo by Evunji.

And then there was his mother’s Swedish Meatballs [Recipe]. Oh, but those meatballs still give me dreams at night. She made them sometimes for our school lunches (there were only 18 of us in the class, so mothers often took turns making lunch, instead of running a standard cafeteria). She served them in a brown sauce, with buttered egg noodles. My Swedish friend, Alex, tells me that her mother always served her meatballs with potatoes.  Either way, the key is to serve them with a healthy spoonful of Ligonberry Jam.

Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by Ellgaard Holger.

Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by Ellgaard Holger.

The desserts can be as simple as Swedish Crepes (which Daniel made a stack of for my birthday, and stuck candles in it), or as complicated as the beautiful princess cake [Recipe], a dessert from the 1900’s which includes marzipan, whipped cream, and raspberry jam.

There is so much more. But that is a snapshot into what I tasted, in another life, before I married my amazing husband and our beautiful daughter was born.

Swedish Maps and flag, courtesy of the CIA World Factbook.

Swedish Maps and flag, courtesy of the CIA World Factbook.

P.S. Have you ever dated someone who showed you a new  culture and foods?

Did they have an easier time convincing you to try their food because you were dating?

Were  you more open?

Why or why not?

Or have you been this person for another?


  1. I have been in Sweden several times, and my absolute favorite were the waffla stugas (waffle rooms) at the roadside where they served freshly baked waffles with whipped cream and strawberries, together with a can of coffee.
    I never dated a Swede, but I’m married to a Mainer, and adapted rapidly to lobster, crab meat rolls, and blueberry pie. The thing I did not adapt to were squishy, crustless American “wonderbreads”, and here, fortunately, my husband adapted to my German rye sourdoughs (not to mention my German cakes.)

    • Sasha Martin says

      Oh! There’s a Wonderbread factory here, in Tulsa. I much prefer rye sourdoughs and the lovely German Tree Cake I made when we cooked Germany. YUM

  2. I’ve been waiting for you to get to Sweden since you began! 🙂 I lived in Sweden for a year in high school, and my father’s parents were straight from Sweden. We’ve had elaborate (way too elaborate, if you ask the Swedes…) Christmas Smorgasbords for my entire life, and there is so much amazing food in Sweden.

    I went to visit last spring, and I did a blog post about my culinary adventures there: http://lunchfitforakid.blogspot.com/2012/03/traveling-delicious-food-in-sweden.html

    I can’t wait to see what you make!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Awesome! I remember seeing those pictures from Christmas… this year I think? So awesome! I was jealous 🙂

  3. Paula says

    I dated someone from Norway, and then I married him! I have had wonderful Norwegian foods enter my life that I never would have experienced otherwise… Kjøttkaker med brunsaus (meat cakes/meatballs with brown sauce, Brunost (brown cheese), the best strawberries in the world (from Trøndelag region), and so much more. I was a little hesitant about the brown cheese, but I love that stuff from the first taste. I also tried reindeer, which was good, but I’m still not used to the idea of eating it. It’s definitely easier for me to try things, because I can poach them off my husband’s plate, and if I don’t like it, I’m not committed to eating it.

    Unfortunately, I’ve never been a fan of seafood, so I know I’m missing a lot of Norwegian specialties. I wish I liked seafood; I’ve tried, but it hasn’t grown on me.

  4. At 16, I dated (and am now married to) a Filipino. My mother-in-law introduced me to pancit, lo mein and rice noodles tossed with chicken, cabbage, onions, soy sauce, and fish sauce; lumpia, Filipino fried egg rolls; and many other dishes. I had never tried Filipino food before meeting my husband and now I enjoy my mother-in-law cooking all of those dishes every time she visits. She stayed for a week after I had my son and cooked for us. It was wonderful.

  5. Christina says

    Meatballs (70% beef + 30% pork, egg and bread crumbs) – definitely served with boiled potatoes, even more authentically – boil the potatoes with some dill. The egg noodles you mention sound like spätzle from Germany. And the lingonberry jam… so right, never ever have I seen a Swede eat köttbullar och potatis without lingonsylt!
    Våfflor (waffles) with whipped cream and strawberry jam is equally as traditional as can be.

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