Food Culture and Tradition

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Swedish Glossary of Foods and Food Terms


Akvavit: the clear, faintly caraway-flavored liquor without which there could be no shoal, that formidable Scandinavian ritual of the raised glass, the joint meeting of eyes (as if in agreement to the intent) followed by the downing of the potent brew, a nod, and the raising of the emptied glass. Akvavit may be distilled from potatoes or grains, and though the caraway flavor is available here, many other varieties of herb-, spice-, and even flower-flavored Akvavit are available in Sweden. Always served very cold, the bottle can also be placed in a container of water to be frozen and un-molded for serving, the liquor is then served by tipping the bottle, ice and all. (This is done in Russia using vodka.)

Appelkaka: apple cake.

Doppa I Grytan: the Christmas custom of clipping chunks of rye bread into the broth where the Christmas ham and sausages are simmering. This forms the lunch before Christmas Eve.

Fasan: cut up pheasant pieces placed in a casserole over fruits and oven-baked with white wine. Served with oven brown potatoes.

Fisk: fish.

Frukt Kram: a compote of fruit or berries, slightly thickened with potato flour and served with milk or cream.

Glogg: hot spiced wine punch that includes Aquavit and vermouth. A combination to make any occasion festive!

Gos: bass.

Grolangkaalsuppe: a thick hearty winter soup made with salt pork, kale, and potatoes.

Gronsaks: vegetables.

Inlagd Gurka: freshly pickled cucumbers.

Inlagd Sill: pickled herring.

Julglogg: a hot spiced wine punch with almonds and raisins, served especially on Christmas Day.

Julhog: an edible stack, consisting of rye bread, a sweet yeast ring, a currant saffron bun, a crisp flat cookie, and finally a red apple on top. Usually consumed at Christmas.

Julsinka: Christmas ham.

Kaldolmar: meat-stuffed cabbage rolls.

Knackebrod: the crisp dimpled Swedish flatbread, made mostly of rye flour.

Kottbullar: essential on the smorgasbord table. The famed tiny Swedish meatballs made with a blend of beef, potato and seasonings, browned in butter. Usually served dry for the buffet table, a sauce may he prepared to serve them for a meal.

Krans: turban-shaped yeast coffee cakes fragrant with spices and almonds.

Lax: salmon.

Leverpastej: liver pate, usually prepared in a mold and glazed with aspic.

Limpa: round Swedish rye bread flavored with molasses and finely grated orange peel.

Lussikator: the saffron and raisin yeast buns served warm with fresh coffee especially for the St. Lucia Day’s breakfast.

Lutfisk: dried salt cod that undergoes a ritual of special soaking for several weeks before being presented as the main course for the Christmas Eve meal. Gently poached and served with a glaze of white sauce.

Nors: smelts.

Ost: cheeses.

Plattar: light crisp little pancakes made with a simple egg, flour and milk batter and cooked in butter. These are always served with lingonberries, fresh or preserved.

Rakor: shrimps.

Saffronsbrod: saffron yeast bread.

Sjomansbiff: sailor’s beef. A hearty stew of layered, thinly sliced and pounded beef, sliced potatoes, stock and dark beer. Served with pickled beets.

Smavarmt: the warm dishes of the smorgasbord, eaten only in small sampling amounts. These include omelets, creamed dishes, custards, souffl├ęs of vegetables or fish, livers, mushrooms, sweetbreads, ground meat dishes, rolls, and vol-au-vent specialties.

Spettkaka: the most original and intriguing of all Swedish cakes. Baked on a rotating spit by dribbling the egg and sugar batter in trickles. The final result is a tall cone of intertwined delicate bakery that dissolves in the mouth with a soft powdery sweetness. Specialty of St. Martin’s Day, November 11.

Spritsar: rich short butter cookies.

Stekt Kyckling: butter-roasted chicken served with creamy gravy and boiled or mashed potatoes.

Svardfisk: swordfish.

Vaffel: waffles. The specialty of the March waffle festival when they are eaten for the three meals of the day.

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