Sweden is known for a lot of things. There are breathtaking landscapes, successful examples of socialist democracy, the Nobel Prize, and a lot more. But culinary achievement? Not exactly. The most famous Swedish chef is of the muppet variety and the country’s most well-known canned good is fermented herring (which is known to sometimes induce vomiting when opened).
Then again, Sweden does offer more than its fair share of delicious cultural delicacies. Here are five mouthwatering dishes to try on your next visit to the home of IKEA.
Swedish Meatballs With Mashed Potatoes & Lingonberries (Köttbullar Med Potatismos & Ligon)
The quintessential Swedish meal. Fans of all things Swede will recognize this tasty main course and sides from the IKEA cafeteria—which actually is pretty close to the genuine thing. But if you want to go all out and nosh some high quality meatballs, why not do it in the premiere Swedish city of Stockholm? Probably the city’s most famous and well-reviewed restaurant for meatballs is Bakfickan, which is known to offer both traditional and reinterpreted versions. Another option is Meatballs for the People, the country’s self-proclaimed first and only “meatballeria”.
There are probably two regions in the world where locals love to feast on crayfish: Louisiana and Sweden. For Swedes, the delectable crustacean is mainly eaten at parties to celebrate the end of summer. For the most part, such gatherings (called kräftskiva) are usually private affairs, so there aren’t a lot of restaurants with reputations for throwing kräftskiva (although plenty do serve crayfish). But there are opportunities for visitors to catch their own crayfish to throw their own kräftskiva, the best example of which is along the Göta Canal in western Sweden.
Shrimp Sandwhich (Räksmörgås)
If you’re a fan of open face sandwiches, then you’re going to enjoy lunches in Sweden. Swedish sandwiches, smörgås, are traditionally served without a top piece of bread. And if you ever crave a sandwich while in Sweden, you’ll want to order a räksmörgås, which is basically THE Swedish sandwich. It’s toasted bread with lettuce, then piled high with shrimp and topped with mayonnaise and lemon. If you want to snack on a prime example of räksmörgås and happen to find yourself in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, head on over to Heaven 23, a restaurant at the top of the four star hotel Gothia Towers, where you can eat and enjoy the view.
Smoked Salmon (Varmrökt Lax)
If there’s one staple of Swedish cuisine, it’s smoked fish. And there’s no smoked fish more popular in Sweden than salmon. You can pick up varmrökt lax in most grocery stores or order it in plenty of restaurants, but if you want to try a fresher and more local way to get it, you should see about buying some via local fishermen and fishmonger. Get brave and try out the repurposed fish huts in the southern city of Malmö, whose fisherman smoke and sell their most recent catches.
Princess Cake (Prinsesstårta)
No words can accurately describe the unique deliciousness of this popular Swedish desert. Its green marzipan covering smoothly tops a combination of sponge cake, pastry cream, and whipped cream. Next time you’re in Stockholm, swing on by the Wiener Cafeet and order a slice.
So there you have it, proof that Swedish epicurean treats are more than most people think. Next time you find yourself in the land of ABBA, you’ll know what’s worth trying from the menu. But no matter how much you find yourself enjoying the local delicacies, STAY AWAY from the fermented herring (seriously).
Are you a connoisseur of Swedish food and think we missed a tasty example of the Nordic nation’s culinary offerings? Let us know in the comments section below.