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Eating in Sweden

Swedish foodSwedes love to eat, which is most apparent by the Swedish “fika“, which has many translations. I’ve seen it commonly translated as “coffee break” but I don’t think this does it justice as experiences in Norrland show that the “fika” really revolves around having a snack. So I tend to translate it as “snack time”!

Swedish food consists of a good deal of breads and meats, some dairy, and jams, cakes, and godis are big during any time of the day. Because of the “fika”, Swedes tend to eat more smaller meals multiple times during the day instead of two or three large meals. Which isn’t a bad thing, because Swedish food is yummy! I could eat it twelve times a day. Ok, maybe not that much :)

Nourishment isn’t exactly cheap, but as an American authoring this site, what did you expect me to say — that I snap up edibles in Sweden for the equivalent of pennies on the dollar? I wish.

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Restaurants in Sweden

Eating out in Sweden can be expensive, however, if you’re from Paris, New York, or San Francisco, the price is not likely to give you sticker shock.

Going to a Swedish restaurant isn’t my favorite thing to do, not just because of the cost but because there are far fewer wait staff than I’m accustomed to, so it feels like you wait an eternity to get service. And truthfully, the food in Skellefteå hasn’t been worth bundling up and stepping out in the cold.

Swedish restaurant in Skellefte??å.

The pitfalls of restaurant dining.

Swedish Fast Food: Max vs. McDonald’s

MaxThe Swedish equivalent of McDonald’s is Max, and is relatively affordable at the equivalent of $2-$2.50 USD for a hamburger. Max is very well-liked and patronized regularly by the Swedes. Personally, I greatly prefer Max to McDonald’s and other fast food establishments in the United States. In fact, there was a McDonald’s in downtown Skellefteå but it closed. Go Max!

Pizza in Sweden is not anything to write home about. It is fairly greasy and soggy, and although there are tons of fast food pizza places everywhere, I can’t muster up the taste to go there ever and rather bake pizza at home or wait until I travel to New York to visit my brother to have some REAL pizza.

Supermarket Shopping

Like the rest of Europe, when shopping for food, you have to bring your own reusable shopping bags or otherwise pay for theirs. Contrary to what I’ve heard, I find a fabulous selection of foods available at our local grocery store, ICA (pronounced eek-a). I am able to find peanut butter, fluff, and marshmallows, surprisingly. Sometimes our small local store may not have all our needs, but a large ICA isn’t far away, and if we feel like fighting the crowds then the big ICA we go to.

ICA, Swedish grocery store in Skelleftea.

Swedish grocery store in Skellefteå.

I find myself having to check expiration dates far more frequently, however. On one occasion I purchased chicken that had expired two days ago and had to take it back to the store, despite attempting to cook with it and failing. It stunk.

Fortunately, I was able to return it without hassle.

Fruits and vegetables are primarily imported, and many are not found fresh on store shelves. Many people complain about it, particularly visitors.

Sweden Food

Bakery cases at ICA in Skellefteå.

Their food generally has fewer preservatives, so you don’t hear me whining about bad and expired food (until I end up purchasing it, that is…).

Surströmming: Better Than Sushi

Fish is one of my favorite things to eat in Sweden, and is exactly what I think of when I think of Swedish food. White fish served with a Swedish flat bread is rather tasty, and is a popular fika in Sweden. Equally delightful to consume is surströmming, a rotting fish that tastes far better than can be described in words. Sadly, many are taking issue with this fine delicacy. The scent and flavor of surströmming is not only distinctly Swedish, but is as pleasurable as watching the sunset over Stockholm. Lutfisk is also a traditional Swedish fish, not to be confused with candy.

Surstromming

Surstromming

“Most lutefisk is not edible by normal people. It is reminiscent of the afterbirth of a dog or the world’s largest chunk of phlegm.”

–Garrison Keillor

Let Them Eat Cake

Princess cake is a favorite dessert of the Swedes. It is light and fluffy, with a cream and usually fruit filling. There is also a marzipan shell over the entire cake, and it tastes fantastic. The marzipan shell is typically green or yellow in color. Some authentic recipes shall be forthcoming.

Swedish Food Online

If you are overseas, a lot of Swedish food (or Sweden food as some of you seem to search for!) can’t be found easily in the local supermarkets. Luckily, we do have a list of great swedish recipes which you can make yourself. A lot of the ingredients are very easy to find locally. You can also find some Swedish specialties easily online. Check out this great blog post about buying Swedish food online.

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