This is the first of six posts – each presenting one of our favourite everyday products. The things we eat again and again and that always provide a taste of home.
Open a random Swedish fridge and chances are you’ll find at least one blue and yellow tube of creamed cod roe with a smiley blonde on the pack. Creamed cod roe..may not sound very appetising, but its slightly salty, savoury mild taste makes it an excellent addition to your egg-sandwich – and this, indeed, is how most people enjoy it.
What’s the fuss about you may ask? Well let us tell you how it all started (drumwhirl please)..
Kalles Kaviar was launched in Sweden in 1954, and is based on several hundred years old recipe from the Swedish west coast. Its iconic blue and yellow tube has changed little since then, and is a much-loved sight for a Swede in need of some TLC. No one is quite sure who to credit for the recipe, which was bought by Abba from a peddler for around 1000SEK – a small fortune in the 50s.
So, we have our little food quirks. Aside from all the really weird stuff like fermented herring and smoked sheep’s head, we have little habits that other nations sometimes find a little, well, a little peculiar….
Food in tubes.
Especially cod roe, that is a huge favourite among Swedes and Norwegians. For breakfast. With boiled egg.
Remoulade with everything.
Danes especially love remoulade, a type of curried pickle mayonnaise sort of thing. Enjoy it with chips (nope, not ketchup), breaded fish, roast beef, on pate, on meatballs, on everything they can think of, actually.
Tacos on Fridays
Scandinvians LOVE Tacos. It’s a Friday thing. For Swedes and Norwegians, it’s every Friday, too.
Everything is referred to as Tacos, it’s so much easier than learning your burrito from your enchilada from your fajita. Just call it all Tacos. All of it. Even the nachos are called Tacos on Friday evenings. Also, must be served with chopped cucumber pieces (a combination somewhat strange to Mexico).
In Sweden, go one better and have Taco Pie.
It’s a Taco Quiche. Well done, Sweden. Photo: Ica, Sweden
Jam and cheese.
For breakfast, enjoy a nice treat of bread, cheese and a dollop of strawberry jam.
It’s not a silly fad: It is our life. Live with it. And we will ALWAYS try to make you taste it, only to find that you will never understand our love of salty, tar-like ‘sweets’.
This is Danes only. A 38% alcohol drink, made from a secret blend of 29 herbs. Danes like to drink this in shots. In the morning. With breakfast. Older Danes have a saying: ‘One shot for each leg’.
While in Norway
…they have freshly baked waffles. Topped with brown goats cheese – and jam.
Dip your chip
All our crisps (potato chips ) MUST be dipped in a sour cream dip dressing, usually named something exotic such as ‘holiday dip’. Every single crisp must be dipped.
Want to know something else?
In Denmark, sometimes, crisps are served with the main meal. On the plate. Add gravy. Yes, it’s a real thing (but mainly for Christmas and Grandma’s birthday).
Spaghetti & Ketchup for dinner
Yes, even grown ups at times. We LOVE it. We need nothing more.
Nope, we really don’t think it is weird to eat pickled herring on crispbread or rye bread.
Ah, and the delicious Kebab Pizza.
Pizza – topped with shavings of kebab meat – and dressing.
And in Sweden, the hotdogs are often topped with prawn mayonnaise. AND ketchup and mustard.
When in Norway, they have waffle hotdogs, too. Yes they do.
Photo – coop.no
And in Sweden, black pudding
– with jam. Lingonberry jam. It’s a thing.
We all love a bit of cold rice pudding. In Norway and Sweden topped with orange segments (especially those from a tin) – and cherry sauce in Denmark. We eat this for Christmas.
Back in Sweden, people eat Sandwich Cakes.
Bread, mayo, filling of choice, bread, mayo, more filling, decorate with every shred of your imagination. Set. Slice. You’re the hero.
We eat so much pork liverpate
We buy it in half kilo packages. Huge. And then we add so much pickled cucumber on it you can’t taste the pate (get some here).
The Swedish Dish that people are often not quite sure is actually real – but it is: Chicken baked with cream, curry, chilli ketchup, bananas… Then topped with bacon bits and peanuts. Serve with rice.
Start by cutting your meatballs into smaller chunks and fry them on medium heat in a little butter to make the edges go golden crisp, until they are warmed through. They’re already cooked so no need to cook them for very long.
Then grab a plate and place 1 round polarbrod on it; we like it toasted but it doesn’t have to be. Spread a little salted butter on. Add a green leaf if you want. Spinach or rocket is good, or just plain lettuce. It adds a bit of freshness and crunch.
Spread the beetroot salad on top your bread, approximately two tablespoons. Variation; Swap pickled red cabbage for the beetroot.
Finish by adding your warm meatballs, some chopped chives and perhaps lingonberry jam, although we tend to think the sweetness from the beetroot salad is enough in this instance.
Add a good sprinkling of salt and pepper to finish.
Sit down. Grab a knife and a fork and enjoy. ‘Mums filibaba’, as a Swede would say! (it means Yummy!).
Fancy making this? We have a bundle for you:
Swedish Meatball Sandwich
Per i Viken Farmors Köttbullar – Meatballs 8-Pack
Felix Lingon – Wild Lingonberry Jam 283g
Like this post? Share it on Facebook to spread the meatball-love – button below.
We at ScandiKitchen have a passion for our smorgasbord, great coffee, crispbread and all things Scandinavian. Singing Eurovision songs and brewing coffee – it is a passion always in fashion.
We are currently looking for more superheroes to join our team and give our customers the best experience in our lovely café. So we just wanted to introduce ourselves a bit:
We have been up and running since 2007 – yeah that’s right, almost 10 years of us dancing around in our café on Great Titchfield Street in London to offer you the best of Scandinavia. So when working for us you can expect to have a lot of fun and things like this:
You will get excellent training in Scandinavian random facts
Eat a lot of meatballs
Crispbread is holy
Meet our awesome customers
Be part of our team – we are one big family
On a more serious note: we will offer you a great experience in a fast paced environment, opportunity to evolve in our growing company, customer service experience and to take part in shaping our organisation.
Scandinavian people love their coffee. Norwegians are in the top of coffee consumption but Sweden and Finland consume the most cups of coffee per day in the world. So to say the least – Scandinavians are well caffeinated!
But when having a Fika in the summer it is sometimes nice to cool down with a cold drink. If there is no ice coffee available Scandinavians love to make a jug of ‘saft’ – cordial. This cold drink matches any favourite nibbles such as cookies, pastries or cinnamon buns. What Fika truly stand for and what you need to have to create the best Fika moment you can find here. And here you can find 10 ways to Fika so that you can find your new favourite.
Now we want to brew some coffee and make a jug of ‘saft’ – don’t you?
We are proud to come from the lands of the Vikings. Here are some great facts about our forefathers that we’ve collected this week.
Lots of us watched the excellent BBC documentary this week called The Vikings Uncovered with Dan Snow and Sarah Parcak – highly recommend if you get the chance to see it.
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 Vikings came from Sweden, Norway and Denmark. It was not known as one or several nations to the Vikings themselves – this definition came later. Lots of tribes and settlements that often fought each other when not busy travelling.
The first Vikings in the UK landed at Lindisfarme in 793. The stories from this visit are not particularly friendly and doesn’t portray the Norse men in a very favourable light. After this, the Vikings settled over much of England, Scotland and Ireland. There may have been some disagreements with locals at times, but we found a way around it.
No Vikings ever wore a helmet with horns. Ever.
North America was first visited by Leif Eriksson in around year 1000. They called it Vinland. Leif was the son of Erik the Red (Eiríkr hinn rauði) who was an all round pretty nasty guy having been banished from Scandinavia to Iceland for being too violent. Erik the Red was likely very ginger, hence his name.
Ginger Viking was then in exile from Iceland for 3 years due to ‘a few murders’ and spent this time exploring Greenland. This resulted in the first big marketing ploy in history: Erik marketed Greenland as ‘green and fruitful’, encouraging people to join him in settling there. Once they got there, they were not pleased, but they made the best of it, whilst Erik went back to Iceland.
The Vikings settlements and journeys stretched from New Foundland all the way to the Middle East. We picked up spices in Constantinople, travelled through Kiev… Even made it to Jerusalem.
The Viking Age is commonly considered to have ended with the death of Harald Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.
Viking women could divorce their husbands quite easily – for reasons including ‘displaying too much chest hair’. After a divorce, men were required to pay maintenance. Women could also inherit property.
The word Beserk is a noun used to describe a Norse warrior who fought with uncontrolled ferocity – known as a Beserker. It comes form the Norse word ‘Beserkr’, from berr (bare i.e. without amour) and serkr (coat) .
A long boat could travel up to 200km a day. The Vikings also had slower passenger and cargo ships called knörr (nothing to do with stock cubes).
A Viking long boat could take around 30,000 hours to build and wood from around 15 fully grown trees. They were usually built from oak – and 4000 nails.
Vikings used a liquid to start fires. They’d boil touchwood from fungus in urine for several days and then pound it into something similar to felt. The sodium nitrate would mean the felt would smother rather than burn, so they could bring fire along with them.
The traditional Northern English greeting “‘Ey up” is Viking – it comes from ‘se opp’ (look up).
Icelandic genetics today show a lot of British trace – suggesting that the Vikings picked up British and Irish people along their way there. The Vikings were active slave traders – slaves were known as Thralls and sold on markets across the world.
The word Bluetooth comes from Harald Bluetooth, who was really good at making people get on with each other and ‘connect’. The symbol we use for Bluetooth today is actually runes for his initials.
The Vikings were really clean people, especially compared to, say, the English at the time. The Vikings had baths on Saturdays (the word Lørdag, Saturday, comes from the Norse word Laug = ‘bath’’. In England, the Vikings had a reputation for excessive cleanliness.
Viking Men ‘preferred’ being blonde – some dark-haired men would bleach their hair (and sometimes beards) blonde using lye. (This also helped keep lice away – a total bonus).
Vikings worshipped the Norse god of skiing and also loved skiing for fun. God of Skiing’s name was Ullr and was often depicted wearing skis and holding a bow and arrow.
The medical name for a hangover, veisalgia, is an amalgam of the Greek ‘algia’ referring to pain and the Old Norse ‘kveis’, meaning the ‘unease one feels after a period of debauchery’.
The Vikings had issues with the English sh-sound. Places like Shipton became Skipton. Most sk words in english are Viking in origin. We still have issues with the sh-sound today – many Swedes often mix up ch and sh sounds when speaking English (Shicken instead of chicken, shallenge, shild for child etc).
Vikings used an outdoor ‘loo’ and wiped their bums with moss and sheep’s wool [How do we know these things? Really? – ed]
William the Conqueror was the grandson of Viking king Rollo – the Norsemen were just a few generations from the Normans.
Thank you also to Dr. Tina Paphitis PhD, our resident archaeologist who is leaving us this week to return to University of London. If you happen to have any fun projects for Tina that will mean her digging sites involving Viking stuff and folklore in any place on the planet, do contact us and we’ll let her know.
Disclaimer: While we will always try to be as correct as possible, no responsibility for facts in this article can be taken. We’re a cafe with a nice blog, not fact keepers of all things Vikings. So double check before you use any of these in any official capacity what-so-ever. Just to be sure.
How to be Swedish, even if you’re not in Sweden – A quick guide.
So, you want to be Swedish? You don’t need to go to Sweden to be Swedish – just follow this quick do-it-at-home guide and you’ll be saying jo-jo at the beginning of every sentence before you know it.
1. Drink a lot of coffee.
Even if you think you drink a lot of coffee, double it right now and still not out-do the average Swede. We drink more coffee than anyone in the world, (except the Finns). Go for strong filter coffee.
2. When you get up in the morning, follow this ritual:
2 slices of crisp bread, 1-2 boiled eggs, a squirt of Kalles creamed cod roe with your eggs. Some sliced cheese, if you are feeling fancy. Drink a large glass of milk. Coffee.
3. How to slice the above cheese
Using the designated correct slicer for the job, you always follow the slicing rules: DO NOT MAKE A SLOPE. This is a cardinal sin. Simply slice a bit from each side every time and the cheese will stay level. If it’s not level, you lose 3 Swedify points.
4. Every time someone says anything about anything, just say: in Sweden, we have that. Except ours is better.
Your friend: Oh, taste these lovely British crisps I just bought. You: We have these in Sweden, too, except ours are dill flavoured. And better.
5. Fika a lot.
At least twice a day, stop what you are doing and go get another coffee. Sit down. Eat a cinnamon bun. Talk to others who are doing the same. This is now something you do twice a day for the rest of your life. It’s called Fika. It’s a noun and a verb, so you can meet for a fika or you can fika with someone. Never ever use another word for it, such as “coffee break”, because it just won’t do. Always say fika. See point 4.
6. Cinnamon buns
Because you are now eating two a day, learn to make them properly, because Swedes bake at home. If you ever add any kind of icing on top of cinnamon buns, go back to Swedish School: you just lost the game.
7. Swedify your apartment or personal space.
Paint everything white (walls, doors, floors… everything). This is your canvas on which to express yourself. Add a few block colours, maybe some Poäng chairs or tastefully selected ikea key pieces with names such as DalaBördiholm or something (laugh that all things you step on in Ikea have Danish names). Add some cushions with tasteful Swedish patterns. Add candles everywhere, ready to go as soon as darkness falls.
8. Make your Swedish dinner
Meatballs with mash and gravy is too stereotypical. Instead, the real Swedish the national dish: Kottbullar & Snabb Makroner. SnabbMakroner is basically quick-cook pasta. Because real Swedes refuse to wait 8 minutes for pasta to cook, so they invented one that cooks in 3 (See point no 4). Add Köttbullar meatballs, squirt Felix Ketchup all over the plate and award yourself another 5 Swedify points.
9. Eat in the dark
As a Swede, you will know that eating in the dark is quite normal. So, as soon as darkness falls, light 20-30 candles and turn off all electric light (keep heating at 24 degrees, which is natural indoor Swedish temperature). This is to be referred to as ‘mysigt’, or ‘really cosy’. At any time where darkness falls, do this, especially when eating, even if you can’t see your quick cook pasta with ketchup.
10. Schedule your washing time.
It’s a Swedish thing, tvättstugatid, or ‘booked washing machine time’ – because if you live in an apartment in Sweden, you have shared laundry rooms. Feel more Swedish by doing this at home – just write a note and stick it to your washing machine. Put all your clothes in a blue ikea bag, go to the machine at your allotted time and loudly sigh when you find your flatmate has rudely taken the machine when you’ve so Swedishly pre-booked it. 3 points.
11. Announce when you need to pee.
It really is a thing. At a board meeting in the city? Stand up and confidently announce: “Jag musta kissa” (I need to wee), leave the room and do not look the least bit embarrassed. You’ve just earned 5 Swedify points, my friend.
12. It’s Friday night. Your friends are going out.
You plan to stay in and do Cosy Friday, Fredagsmys . This involves opening a large bag of dill crisps, adding these to a large bowl. Make some ‘dip mix’ (mix spices with exotic names such as holiday mix with crème fraiche; stir) and dip every crisp before eating. Don’t forget to do all this in the darkness.
For extra Swede points, start every Friday evening by eating homemade tacos. Only ever do this on Fridays, tacos are only for Fridays.
13. It’s Saturday. You go to the shop and buy a bag of pick’n’mix.
Because from now on, you only eat sweets on Saturdays and you refer to it as Lördagsgodis: Saturday sweets (by definition, you then can’t eat it on other days). Stay in and watch things like På Spåret, which is the best thing on Swedish TV, except for Melodifestivalen (Swedish Eurovision). Don’t forget to tell everybody you hate Eurovision, but watch it anyway.
Anytime anyone says anything about football, realise you can’t really compete, but just add at the end of every sentence:
“We have this guy called Zlatan. We don’t need a full team to win anymore”.
At any other given opportunity, explain the off side rule for handball or ice hockey into conversation to give yourself the edge on Swedish Popular Sports.
15. Keep fit like a Swede.
When you realise that 2 buns a day isn’t going to be guilt free, take up any or all of the following:
Skiing, cross country skiing, walking, hill walking, stick walking, Nordic walking, stock Nordic walking, dog walking, walking Nordic dogs… Or anything that requires you to go outside and get rosy cheeks on two legs. During these outdoor pursuits, do not engage in conversation with strangers, other than a quick ‘dag’ grunt. Always make sure you wear a mössa, a woolly hat.
If you need to queue, do it like a Swede. At bus stops, ensure at least 2 safety metres between you and the closest stranger to you. Do not make conversation, not even about the weather. Ask your local shop to re-install the ticket queuing machines that went out of fashion here in 1987 – because Swedes need these so they don’t have to stand in line (see issue with bus stop queuing and safety metres). See point 4, if in doubt of this particular practise.
Congratulations, you are now a bit more Swedish.
Fancy some Swedish food to complete your Swedification?
Midsummer in Scandinavia. Think clear blue lakes, rolling green hills and lots of people running around barefoot, singing and dancing. Here’s our little guide about how to be more like a Swede at Midsummer…
Midsummer is the longest day of the year. Swedes (and Finns) celebrate it on the Friday that is closest to actual solstice. This year, Midsummer in Sweden is 19th June, but any Swede abroad will celebrate it on 20th because that is a Saturday, so this is much more convenient.
Most people think this is Swedish Midsummer…
Okay, so this is actually a bit true….
Midsummer is almost as big as Christmas and Eurovision. We take it very seriously. So, if you are planning on joining in, you need to know the basics.
You need nature. Midsummer is not an indoor celebration. It’s not possible to be authentic celebrating midsummer in a Hackney bedsit. Head to a park near you if you are in the city – such as Hyde Park (like a calling, Swedes randomly seem to gather there most years, although it is not an organised event).
The Midsummer Pole (Midsommarstången)
Get a few wooden poles, put them in a cross, add two round balls and decorate with flowers. Yes, we know, it is an upside down willy. It is a big fertility ritual, really. Erect your pole in the grass.
It’s basically a Maypole, but we don’t have enough flowers to decorate it in May, so we wait until June.
Dance like a frog
All Swedes know that the most natural thing in the world is to dance around the big phallic pole, pretending to be a little frog with no ear and no tail. Everybody joins in – old, young, drunk. Get the song here.
The food: Herring
Pack a picnic or make a buffet of the most delicious Scandi traditional foods.
Eating herring is essential. For midsummer, the delicious Matjes herring is the way forward. If anyone offers you something called Surströmming, tell them to go where the sun doesn’t shine: It is fermented herring and it smells like gone-off dog poo (tastes okay, though). A word of advice: If you are going to go down the Surströmming route, be very careful not to get any of the brine on your clothes as your chances of finding mate for the evening will be reduced to below zero. Also, the tin is pressurised, so when you open it, the brine will squirt out. Just say no. If you don’t believe us, watch this clip with our Jonas opening surstromming in Hyde Park.
The food: Strawberries.
You will need to include some strawberries in your picnic, as required by Swedish law (we think). Make a strawberry cake (Recipe here) or just bring a kilos along to share out. Rub yourself with strawberries to increase your overall appeal (this is not a proven method, but it might work, who knows).
The food: Dill
The secret to making any dish ‘traditionally Swedish’: Just add dill.
Add to potatoes, add to salads, add to crisps and sandwiches. Just add dill. Then add a bit more. You can never have quite enough dill on things. No, you can’t smoke it.
Guarenteed to rain. Then it will be sunny after. Every time.
Swedes at Midsummer will be consuming a lot of aquavit. It’s a strong alcohol made from grain and flavoured with dill, aniseed and caraway. We drink it in ice cold shots (nubbar), one after the other roughly 1 shot for every 2 beers consumed.
A few things to note: 1) It gets you drunk from the waist down first (i.e. no walking) and 2) It puts you in a slightly amorous mood. Fact: The birth rate in Sweden spikes nine months after Midsummer every year.
Someone will try to offer you the aquavit shot made from wormwood (it’s the one called Bäska Droppar) – they do this because they don’t want to drink it themselves its horrible) and it is really funny to see non-Swedes try it. Polite refuse and say you know what they’re up to.
Ladies tend to wear white dresses or very flowery frocks. A bit like a Laura Ashley showroom, but worn by really pretty people who look like goddesses sent from a different planet to save humanity. Or something.
Men tend to wear what they normally wear to look very Swedish: tight light-coloured trousers, pointy shoes, gelled slicked back hair, a pink shirt and maybe a crown of flowers. Sunglasses essential.
Some people wear traditional dress. If you are not Swedish, it will just make you look like a bit of a twig, so don’t go there. And whatever you do, please, no blue-yellow clothes combos. Bring flags instead. As many as you can carry (this will make you everybody’s best friend).
There are many, many different drinking songs to learn, but if you make an effort and learn ‘Helan Går’, you’ll be the Måns Zelmerlov hero of the night. Don’t worry too much if you don’t get around to learning it, most people are automatically fluent in Swedish after 2 shots of aquavit. If you overdo the aquavit, you may end up sounding Danish. don’t worry, this is not a bad thing, the Swedes will assume you brought cheap beer and will possibly try to befriend you.
Games people play
Don’t be surprised if you are invited to take part in a tug-of-war, egg and spoon race or a game of ‘kubb’. Kubb is a Swedish game involving some wooden sticks and some very drunk men falling about laughing. As far as we can tell, there are no rules (except the ones the drunk Swedes make up on the day).
Flowers in your hair
This applies to everybody. We all do it. Old, young, man, woman – get some flowers in your hair. Kudos if you make your own garland, but you can get hold of cheapie artificial ones at most H&M shops. Flower garlands look especially good on bald, middle aged men.
Legend says that if you pick seven different wild flowers and put them under your pillow at night, you will dream of the person you will marry. This makes the Tinder-swiping a lot easier going forward if you already know what he or she looks like.
It’s yours to deal with, all alone. Enjoy. Hurdy Gurdy.
We are selling out ready to pick up Swedish picnic boxes – booking taken up until 3 days before the event, so just click HERE to order. A box for 4 people costs just £50 (£12.50 per person).