CULTURE

A SWEDISH MIDSUMMER MEAL

 - 8 JUNE 2021

You can consider Midsummer day to be the most important day in the Swedish calendar. This falls around the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year. Marking the onset of summer, this day is full of extravagant celebrations, dancing and eating. You can find intricate flower crowns donned by people. The highlight of the day (apart from the food, of course) is the traditional dance done by the people in groups around a maypole. The Swedes also have a classic song called “Little Frogs”, which they sing as they hold hands and hop around it. Topped off with shots of Schnapps, it’s an experience you would want to have on your bucket list.

Decorating and setting up the maypole

A traditional midsummer feast table

Making a midsummer floral crown

Dancing around the maypole, dressed in traditional attire

All festivals are identified with the dishes that people savour on that occasion. The picnic table of Midsummer is a feast to behold. Upholding some of the Swedish culinary traditions, we have penned some of the most mouthwatering delicacies.

POTATO AND DILL SALAD (FÄRSKPOTATISSALAD)

The new potato harvest is a big deal in Sweden. This makes potatoes a must at the table. The best thing about potatoes is that they are super diverse and everyone loves some. Start with boiling a few with a pinch of salt. Add fresh dill to it and warm it up in some butter. This is the easiest way to prepare a delicious salad. Serve it as a side dish at your feast.

SWEDISH CURED SALMON (GRAVADLAX)

Usually served as an appetizer, Gravadlax (or Gravlax) is a Nordic dish made with Salmon. It is cured using salt, sugar, and dill. Add these three ingredients in a bowl and mix. Put the Salmon skin side down. Season the flesh side with the prepared mixture. Wrap it up and place it flesh side down in a baking tray. Chill it for 48 hours. When finally cured, the gravadlax is firm. Thin slices of the fish are served with mustard and dill sauce. These rich ribbons of fish are also piled on bread and served with it.

PICKLED HERRING (INLAGD SILL)

The Swedish have been eating herring for a long time. Initially, this was due to the fact that herring were present in huge numbers, making them cheap. Today, it is served in all festive meals as a starter, main course or even with Schnapps. In earlier days, it was time consuming to transport the fish from the coast to the mainland. To preserve the fish, people started adding salt or vinegar to pickle it. This is what is now served as Inlagd Sill, and is a delicacy. The herring are first salted and then they are pickled in a mixture of vinegar, water, sugar and spices.It is then garnished with red onions and chives and served atop the midsummer table.

CRISPBREAD (KNÄCKEBRÖD)

This crunchy flatbread is usually made with rye flour. They are high in fibre and low in calories, making them super healthy. They are also very light and stay fresh for a long time. The hole in the middle was to aid in drying them on a pole. You can still find the adaptation of the hole in the middle till date. You can add a variety of seeds to it as well, such as sesame and sunflower seeds. It serves as a platform for the cured salmon or herring. You can also enjoy it separately, maybe with some drinks.

PRINCESS CAKE (PRINSESSTÅRTA)

It is a tradition to serve this exquisite dessert at the Midsummer feast. It has alternating layers of soft sponge cake and rich vanilla cream. It also is filled with sweet raspberry jam. It is topped off with marzipan, which is green in colour. It is decorated with a red marzipan rose and is just as inviting as it sounds. The Swedes love indulging in this recipe, making it the most popular and best selling cake across the country.

STRAWBERRY CAKE (JORDGUBBSTÅRTA)

An authentic swedish strawberry cake is considered essential for the midsummer feast. It being the harvest season for strawberries, they are available in large quantities. The cake is simple and prepared with layers of sponge cake and whipped cream. It is topped with fresh strawberries. This spectacular cake is decadent and easily one of the favourites.

These are some of the most common dishes you can enjoy during the festival. Each family has their own traditions and ways of serving the meal. Do let us know your favourites from the picnic table!