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Travel Blog: Swedish Food

Coming from Central Illinois, seafood is not near the delicacy it is in the coast-ridden countries of Scandinavia. The summer before I left, I can still remember my mom prepping me for Swedish Cuisine by disguising salmon in various fashions. At first it was tough to embrace these new tastes, but eventually I did learn to like seafood and, through my experience, to love Swedish cooking.
After living in the US my entire life, where McDonald’s and other fast food chains are staples of the American diet, moving to Sweden was quite the change. Although I do not typically eat much fast food, it was strange not seeing a Starbucks on every corner with a Double Chocolaty Chip Frappacino calling my name.
Here in the US, eating out is a common occurrence in my family; maybe once or twice a week. In contrast, during my time in Sweden, I could have counted the number of times we dined out on both hands. In other words, it was not often.
However, if while visiting Sweden, one should have the need for that familiar fast food taste, Sweden has adopted several American chains, such as: Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Hardee’s, and Subway. Want to try something new, but not too different? Hit up “Max,” Europe’s oldest and Sweden’s most popular burger chain. It has great burgers and also provides several healthy options and sides.

Making meals at home was surprisingly refreshing. Every week my family divided up the days each of us would make dinner. Learning to prepare traditional Swedish meals was so exciting and I, for one, learned more about cooking during my stay there than I had my entire life.
Swedish meals do consist of a lot of seafood. Because of Stockholm’s coastal location, they have access to some of the best quality of fresh seafood available. A typical weekday dinner would include salmon, quinoa or cous cous (rich grains that are similar to rice) as a side, and a salad. Talk about healthy!

However, nothing comes to mind more when thinking of traditional Swedish cuisine than, köttbullar, or Swedish meatballs. Accompanied by cream sauce, some type of potatoes (boiled or mashed), and lingonberry jam. It doesn’t get more traditional than that. Lingonberry jam is a staple food in Scandinavia because lingonberries are plentiful in the forested areas of the inland and the jam is easy to prepare.
Sweden has also embraced many foreign influences into their cultural diet, such as, sushi and café lattes.  Speaking of café lattes, the tradition of “fika” cannot be excluded when describing Swedish meals. While eating dinner as a family is greatly valued in Scandinavia, “fika” is almost equally as important. Gathering with friends and family, holding a warn cup of coffee or tea, and eating desserts were some of my most treasured moments, especially on those cold winter nights. 

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