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Swedish Cuisine: 4 Foods to Try in Sweden

Scandinavian countries tend to be known more for their style than their food, but that doesn’t mean you can discredit these countries’ culinary traditions. With long coasts across the Baltic and North Seas, Scandinavia tends to get some of the freshest seafood in Europe. In Sweden, though, it’s not just the seafood. Reindeer and other meats are popular in Swedish cuisine, and the famous lingonberry sauce is one of the most popular accompaniments to many meals.

I remember my first visit to Sweden — I arrived in Stockholm ready to eat all the meatballs. (Thank you, IKEA, for introducing me what’s probably Sweden’s biggest cultural export!) But, as soon as I discovered Stockholm’s hipster neighborhood of Södermalm, I realized there was so much more to Swedish cuisine than just meatballs! The country seems to be ground zero for testing and trying many new trends — whether its craft beer from Brooklyn, or the latest coffee craze. Following are four of my favorite foods from Swedish cuisine.

1) Meatballs, meatballs, meatballs!! (köttbullar)

Okay, I said there’s more to Swedish food than meatballs, but meatballs are obviously a big part of it. IKEA may be famous for introducing them to the world through their store cafeterias, but nothing beats an authentic meatball in Sweden. They’re a popular meal, served with potatoes and lingonberry sauce. A mix of pork and beef, it’s a great party snack or an easy, light lunch. Swedish meatballs are traditionally lighter than many other cultures’ similar meaty snack – that’s thanks to the milky breadcrumbs mixed in with the recipe.

2) Lingonberry sauce

Made from lingonberries found in Sweden’s forests, the sauce — really, it’s a jam — is often served at breakfast time with pancakes or as a relish with Sweden’s many meat dishes. It’s a popular feature in many Scandinavian cuisines, but their traditional placement on the plate next to Swedish meatballs makes them especially important to Swedish cuisine.

3) Prawn sandwich (räksmörgås)

Swedish food traditionally includes many meats, but the prawn sandwich is one of the country’s typical lunches. Served cold and on an open-faced sandwich, it’s a surprisingly hearty meal. Served with very little mayonnaise, it’s a pretty straightforward sandwich. Bread (often toasted white bread) with a bit of lettuce and tomato, a slice of a hard-boiled egg, and a dollop of mayonnaise on top.

4) The Fika

It’s not exactly a food, but the fika is the Swedish cultural tradition to enjoy a coffee and cake each afternoon. While most cultures seem to have this daily tradition, in Sweden, it somehow seems more important. Swedes drink more coffee per day than most other countries — coming in #3 after the Netherlands and Finland — so it’s no wonder they take their time to fika very seriously. And they take their coffee slooooow. Unlike more fast-paced coffee cultures (looking at you, Starbucks-addicted Americans!), Swedes enjoy their coffee with cakes and other sweet treats over a leisurely break.

Have you ever been to Sweden or eaten Swedish food? If so, what’d you think? If not, would you like to try it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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