Coffee, Cinnamon Buns + Salmon: Eating in Sweden
When I arrived back home after my time in Sweden, my family and friends asked me how the food was and what I ate. While foods like surströmming (fermented herring), smörgåskaviar (tubed and fishy caviar) and the fact that nearly all condiments come in tubes initially had me a bit nervous about Swedish cuisine, there are many delicious foods Sweden has to offer.
First of all, cinnamon buns (kanelbullar) are the best Swedish breakfast or sweet treat. Pair a cinnamon bun with a cup of strong Swedish coffee and a friend, and you've got yourself a fika! Fika is my favourite Swedish tradition. There are many definitions to this tradition, which range from "a date pretending not to be a date," as we were told by our orientation leaders, to social coffee time with colleagues. During my four months in Växjö, I took full advantage of fika and enjoyed the finer things in life — coffee, chats and sweets!
A typical breakfast for me in Sweden always consisted of at least two cups of coffee paired with a fried egg, some potatoes and yogurt with granola. The first time I bought yogurt in the local grocery store, I was a bit confused because it comes in what looks like a milk carton. Then again, we eastern Canadians put our milk in bags, so I guess I can't be too surprised.
My friend family, a local Swedish family who invited me over to their place for meals and taught me more about the culture in Sweden, always fed me the most incredible Swedish food when I visited them. One morning, they had prepared a brunch of fresh salmon and boiled potatoes (two of my favourite foods), as well as a delightful coffee and dessert spread. During another visit, I was treated to homemade fish soup, bread that was fresh from the oven, and cake. I felt so spoiled! I still keep in contact with my Swedish family when I can, and it’s been amazing to watch the children grow up and hear about their adventures.
For all my friends out there with a major sweet tooth, you must check out the candy aisles (or pick-n-mix bins) in Swedish grocery stores. If you’re there on a Saturday though, you may get caught up in the lördagsgodis wave — a tradition of picking candy up on a Saturday and only eating it on that day to limit cavities. I may have broken the once a week rule a few times, but it was hard to resist the colourful candy displays!
To balance out all of my cinnamon bun and candy indulging, I would bike to the local farmers’ market in the city square to pick up some fresh fruit and veggies. The prices were very reasonable and the offerings were fresh and flavourful.
Another healthy treat I enjoyed were Froosh smoothies that were conveniently sold in single-serve glass bottles at the local grocery stores. There were an assortment of flavours for every taste, but I preferred the berry and pina colada ones. They even had quirky sayings on the labels of the bottles.
After enjoying one of these smoothies, I was able to recycle the bottle in the bin specifically labelled for clear glass only. Recycling in Sweden is like an Olympic sport, but it taught me how to effectively separate my used packaging.
Food like salmon and potatoes are staples for me at home, so I was excited that they were also popular in Sweden. I even gained a new favourite treat: cinnamon buns!
Writing all of this has me craving some authentic Swedish cinnamon buns, so maybe I will have to try and make a batch of them soon. I just have to work on my baking skills first...
What’s your favourite Swedish food? What’s the craziest food you’ve ever tried?