Swedish culture primer, part 2: what you see below is the national dish of Sweden:
Now, other people might try to tell you that any number of other dishes are, in fact, the national dish of Sweden: boiled crayfish, pea soup with mustard and pancakes, meatballs and mashed potatoes, fermented herring, roast moose etc etc. They are all wrong. This is the de facto national dish of Sweden: it is eaten at every holiday, in summer and in winter, it can be a starter, a side dish, or a main course, it’s ingredients are always available in every store in Sweden, year-round. A couple of different kinds of pickled herring and potatoes, plus some sour cream and chives – it doesn’t get more everyday and versatile than that. Note also the absence of any kind of green vegetable (chives and dill are herbs, not veggies), another thing that is very typical of Swedish cooking. Since every Swede practically is only two or at most three generations removed from being a farmer, there is something deeply rooted in the national psyche, a disdainful voice that tells us that vegetables are animal food, not suitable for consumption by humans (unless they’ve been dried and robbed of all colour, as is the case of Swedish pea soup – it’s not green but a yellow colour reminiscent of sick). Real Swedes eat potatoes and fish, and meat on a Sunday.
I’ve been on a short trip to Sweden over the weekend (or rather, I’m still in Sweden, as flights to Heathrow have been cancelled because there’s apparently been some snow there) and of course I’ve taken the opportunity to try some Swedish beers. Due to some kind of iPhone malfunction I have not been able to take any pictures so you’ll have to make do with words – I’ll keep it brief, capsule reviews only. I originally planned to do a reverse companion piece to my “10 British breweries you need to get in Sweden”, titled “5 Swedish breweries that deserves wider distribution in the UK”, or something like that – but that will have to wait. View this as a kind of teaser for a longer feature to come.