TRADITIONAL SCANDINAVIAN FOOD HABITS
The fare of Scandinavia is simple and hearty, featuring the abundant foods
of the sea and making use of the limited foods produced on land. Most
Scandinavian cooking and food processing reflect preservation methods of
previous centuries. Fish was dried, smoked or pickled, and milk was often
fermented or allowed to sour before being consumed. Scandinavians still
prepare a large variety of preserved foods and prefer their foods salty.
Scandinavians are probably best known for their use of fish and shellfish,
especially the dried salt cod which is exported all over the world today.
Lutefisk is prepared by soaking the dried cod in a lye solution before
cooking. Other typical fish dishes include salmon marinated in dill, called
gravlax, smoked salmon known as lox and many varieties of pickled herring.
Common fruits and vegetables are apples, potatoes, cabbage, onions and
beets. Pea soups are a winter treat throughout Scandinavia, often served with
pancakes. Several varieties of berries – particularly lingonberries and wild
mushrooms are collected from local forests.
Meat, in limited supply, was stretched by chopping it and combining it with
other ingredients. Today the Scandinavians still eat many vegetables stuffed
with ground pork, veal or beef. The Swedes are known for their delicious
meatballs and the Danes for their meat patties called fricadeller.
Bread is also a staple food item and is often prepared from rye flour,
punched with holes and hung from the ceilings and dried. A thin round
potato bread lefser is cooked on an ungreased griddle and is eaten with
butter and sugar and folded like a hankerchief.
Desserts served with a coffee break or after a meal, are rich but not overly
sweet. Most are made with butter and also contain cream or sweetened
cheese and the spice cardamom. The Scandinavians use almonds, almond
paste, or marzipan in desserts as often as Americans use chocolate. The
Danes are known for their pastries, which were brought to Denmark by
Viennese bakers 100 years ago when the Danish bakers went on strike.
When the strike was over, the Danes improved the buttery yeast dough by
adding jam and other fillings.
Besides milk and other dairy drinks, common beverages are coffee, tea, beer
and aquavit. Aquavit which means “water of life”, is a liquor made from the
distillation of potatoes or grain. It may be flavored with an herb, such as
caraway and is served ice cold in a y-shaped glass. Beer is customarily
consumed everyday; occasionally it is drunk with aquavit.
The Scandinavians eat three meals a day, plus a coffee break mid-morning,
late in the afternoon, or after the evening meal. Breakfast is usually a light
meal that may consist of bread or oatmeal, eggs, pastries, cheese, bread,
fruit potatoes or herring. Fruit soups may be served in the winter topped with
Smorrebrod, which means “buttered bread” is an open-faced sandwhich
served for lunch in Denmark. Buttered bread topped with anything from
salmon, potatoes, sausages, sliced potatoes or tomatoes make up this knife
and fork eaten sandwich. Smorrebrod may also be eaten as a late afternoon
or bedtime snack.
A buffet meal in Sweden is the Smorgasbord(bread and butter table), a large
variety of hot and cold dishes arrayed on a table and traditionally served
with Aquavit. Ritual commonly dictates the order in which foods are eaten
in a smorgasbord.
Dinner is also large, often including an appetizer, soup, entrée, vegetables,
and dessert. Potatoes are usually served with the evening meal and coffee is
served with the dessert course.
Scandinavians assimilated rapidly into American society, yet their diet has
Not changed significantly. Many of their food habits are similar to the diet
of the American majority, such as three large large meals per day...
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