In addition to gravlax, fillet of veal Oscar is one of the few Swedish classics found on menus abroad, and it is often incorrectly prepared. It was composed by the French mâitre de cuisine of the Operakällaren restaurant, Paul Edmond Malaise, for the 25th anniversary of the accession of King Oscar II to the throne. Choron sauce is piped in the shape of an "O" around a slice of fried fillet of veal. Atop the fillet, a white slice of lobster tail and a slice of black truffle are placed to symbolise the black and white ermine trimming on the royal mantle. This is topped with two white sticks of asparagus, forming a Roman number two.


The smörgåsbord is of course Sweden's number one gastronomic flagship. Some say that it has its origins in the schnapps table, a small welcome buffet composed of not just aquavit but also herring, cheese and cold cuts.
   But the smörgåsbord is probably a much older tradition. In the Middle Ages, it was common in all of Europe to put all food on the feast table, both because it was practical and because it made an impression of sumptuousness on guests. Commoners, too, laid out a buffet at big parties and the dishes served were basically the same as those found in today's smörgåsbord.
   The smörgåsbord is only served for lunch and comprises a whole meal consisting of starters, entrées and desserts. To fully enjoy your meal, you should be a bit strategic and not overfill your plate; it's better to go back for more helpings. Change plates often, too, so as not to mix flavours.
   Traditionally, the smörgåsbord is divided into five different stations or turns that include almost all traditional Swedish specialties. To the first turn belong the different herring dishes, hard cheeses, bread and small boiled potatoes. The second turn belongs to the other fish dishes, salmon, eel and shrimp. Here, too, one may help oneself to sauces and salads. The third turn consists of cold cut meats, pâtés, sausages and pickled vegetables. In the fourth turn, hot dishes such as meatballs, small fried sausages, Janssons frestelse, omelettes etc. await. The last turn is the desserts' turn.
Schnapps and beer are drunk with the meal.
Rather few restaurants serve a smörgåsbord, and when they do it's usually on Sundays. But during all of December, the Christmas table is set, and this is like a big smörgåsbord with Christmas ham, lutfisk and Christmas cookies as an extra bonus.


A unique Swedish phenomenon is the smörgåstårta, the "sandwich cake", a popular treat at birthday parties, student parties and other larger parties. It consists of several layers of bread with different fillings in between. The top is beautifully decorated, often with salmon, shrimp or sausage and ham. 

Until recently löjrom (bleak roe) was rather unknown outside of Scandinavia. Now löjrom is being discovered by many star chefs around Europe. This delicious pink caviar is served on blinis or toast with crème fraiche, chopped red onion, a slice of lemon and a sprig of dill. It is also used in sauces or as a decoration. The taste is elegantly mild, fresh and slightly salty. The best bleak roe comes from the fishing village of Kalix in the north, by the Gulf of Bothnia.

©oenoforos. Christine Samuelson.