Crispbread is common across Scandinavia, but especially so in Sweden, followed closely by Norway. 85% of all Swedish households have it at all times.
Crispbread is Sweden’s second largest export – second only to Absolut vodka.
Your average Swedish munches through 5.5 kg of crispbread every year – and crispbread is amongst the most missed food products for Swedes abroad. It may not sound much, but considering an average crispbread weighs about 12 grams, this equates to 458 slices every year. A crispbread a day keeps the doctor away.
What.. IS crispbread? Crispbread is traditionally made with only wholegrain rye, yeast, salt and water, although these days you have a wide range of variety ranging from all-wheat to all nut and seed (to purist, these don’t count). However, when you say crispbread, most people will still think of your classic rye crispbread.
In Scandinavia, crispbread is treated as any other type of bread. It can be topped with almost anything, and is a common part of breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks in between.
Super versatile, you can have crispbread at every meal. Crushed over a bowl of yoghurt, maybe with some berries, for a naturally low sugar, high fibre and delicious granola for breakfast; topped with smoked salmon and cream cheese for lunch; used as pizza base for dinner (oh yes, crispbread pizza is a thing and it’s delicious. In Sweden you can even buy ready made frozen crispbread pizzas).
In the UK, crispbread is often thought about in one of two ways; 1; as a cracker for cheese or 2; diet food. This saddens our crispy Scandi hearts and tummies. Because; crispbread is absolutely great with cheese, and is definitely much better for you than mass produced wonderbread – but Scandis eat crispbread because it is tasty (and you can top it with anything you like), convenient (it keeps forever) and good for you. You could eat 4 triangles of crispbread for every slice of white bread – and thanks to the high fibre content you will stay fuller for a lot longer. Meaning you may be able to resist that cinnamon bun later. Or not. But that’s ok. Balancing your crispbread with cinnamon buns is what the Swedes would call ‘lagom’.
Surströmming is made by preserving the raw herring with just enough salt to prevent it from rotting, then left to ferment for at least 6 months. A Japanese study ranks it as one of the most putrid food smells on the planet.
Surströmming day is the 3rd Thursday in August – in 2017 this falls on the 17th August.
Surströmming translated to sour Baltic herring. Tempting, ey?
How to eat it? A common way is to have it in a ‘klämma’ – a ‘squeeze’. Take two pieces of (crunchy) flatbread and spread with sliced or crushed boiled potato, add the surströmming, squeeze and enjoy. Alternatively, place on a soft flatbread with potato, sour cream and some raw onion. Eat as a wrap. Think of it as the Swedish burrito.
Whatever you do – NEVER open the tin inside. To say the smell is strong is an understatement. And it lingers.
Beer and aquavit are commonly served along with it – but milk, too, is a common drink.
Surströmming is so smelly it is forbidden on most airlines.
Despite (or because of – we don’t know) the smell – surströmming is very popular in Sweden, and many await the season with anticipation, dreaming about the first taste of this speciality.
Our Jonas had a chat with a lovely chap from the Telegraph a few years ago – to find out what he thought have a look at the resulting video here, or click here to read about it.
Have you tried it? What did you think? Share in comments please – we’d love to hear your thoughts on this smelly subject.
Norway day – the 17th of May – is celebrated as it was the day Norway got its constitution, back in 1814.
It is the busiest day of the year for Norway’s king – a whole day of waving is intense.
17th May is the final day of ‘russetid’ – graduation time for students. 3 weeks of solid partying, all culminating on the morning of 17th May.
17th of May is the day Norwegians eat the most ice cream (if it is sunny) – up to 10 times the average amount for a sunny spring day.
During WW2 it was forbidden to parade for 17th of May. It was also forbidden to wear the Norwegian flag’s colours on one’s clothes – contributing to its importance as a symbol of Norway’s freedom ever since.
Marching bands are an important part of the parades – and marching band is the second most popular past time among Norwegian children (surpassed only by football).
It is a national holiday, but since the 18th is not, the celebrations start early – Champagne breakfast at 7am is common, so you have time to eat and drink in time to watch the main parade starting around 10am (varies regionally).
And an extra one – remember to say congratulations to every Norwegian you see.
Eurovision was set up as a way to unite people. I 1956, we were all to unite through song in Switzerland – and 7 countries took part. This year 42 countries will be competing (it was supposed to be 43, but Russia didn’t want to play) – looking to unite through sequins and glitz, animal costumes and wind machines.
When ABBA won in 1974 with Waterloo, the UK gave them ‘nul points’
In 1969, there were 4 winners – that was before the tie-rule was introduced, so, United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and France all won. Nice, right?
Viking Harold Bluetooth was great at connecting nations – Bluetooth tech is named after him: the logo are his initials.
Erik the Red was so violent even fellow Vikings objected; exiling him from both Norway and Iceland (they made him to go Greenland).
Viking is something you do, not something you are.The word Viking comes from the people from the Vik, (vik means bay). People who would sail off to other places were ‘going viking’. The word Viking wasn’t used in English until 19th Century – before this, we were just known as ‘Norsemen’ or ‘Danes’.
The traditional Northern greeting “‘Ey up” comes from the Viking times
Not very viking but very northern.
The Old Norse Viking word for drunk was ‘kveis’, meaning “uneasiness after debauchery”
Viking women could ‘divorce’ their husbands quite easily – reasons included ‘the showing of too much chest hair”.
The word Saturday in Scandinavia is ‘Lørdag’ which comes from the old Norse word laugardagr; a combination of the words laug meaning ‘bath’ and dagr meaning ‘day’. The Vikings were very clean people (at least in comparison to many other nations) and had weekly baths.
1. The Finns drink more coffee per head than any other people in the whole world (12.2kg per person per year)
2. Finland has the most amount of heavy metal band per capita in the world.
3. There are over 2 million saunas in Finland and 99% of Finns take a Sauna once a week or more. There is a Burger King in Finland that has an in-store sauna.
4. In Finnish a hangover is known as Krapula.
5. The Finns have a word for ‘Staying in drinking beer in your underwear with no intention of going out’ (kalsarikannit)
6. Finns have a tradition of Ants Nest Sitting Competition – a fun thing to do with friends. You take down your pants, sit down on an ants nest – first person up, loses.
7. The Finns invented the Molotov cocktail. No, it is not the drinking kind. You know Finns only drink vodka.
1. When you turn on the hot water tap, it smells of eggy farts. This is due to the high sulphur content in the water. It makes showers… interesting.
2. Icelandic phonebooks are listed by first names, not surnames. In Iceland, children are named from their parent’s names – so, Erik’s son Peter will be known as Peter Eriksson. Peter’s son Magnus will be known as Magnus Petersson. A daughter is dottir – so Thorunn Eriksdottir, for example.
3. Iceland is one of the most volcanically active areas on earth. On average, it experiences a volcanic event every 5 years.
4. Not content with one Santa, Iceland has 13 of them, known as The Yule Lads.
5. Iceland is home to one of the world’s oldest democracies (Althing); established in 930. It’s also one of the most gender equal countries on earth.
6. Knitting is taught in Icelandic schools
7. Batman was known as Leðurblökumaðurinn in Iceland. This translates as ‘Leatherflappingman’
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