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The Swedish Table

Helene Henderson
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    The Swedish Table
    Book Description:

    Drawing on her fondest childhood memories, Helene Henderson offers welcome insight into the treasures of Swedish cooking. From the potato, a Swedish staple, to dessert, the star of Swedish cuisine, The Swedish Table contains more than 125 recipes, including Lentil Salad with Radishes (Linssallad), Aquavit and Dill Marinated Salmon (Gravlax), Swedish Meatballs with Gravy (Köttbullar), and the traditional pastry, Bulla.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9693-2
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xviii)

    Everything I know and love about food I learned at the end of the world in the tiny town of Luleå, Sweden, where I grew up. Every recipe in this book is based on my childhood food memories but pairs the finest ingredients, flavors, and scents from my past with produce, spices, and tastes of the present to create new dishes for (and to re-create old dishes from) the Swedish table.

    As the sole African American amid a sea of blue-eyed blonds in Luleå, an industrial town in the verynorth of Sweden, I never physically fit in. My unruly Afro...

  5. Swedish Holidays, Customs, and Celebrations
    (pp. xix-2)

    Sweden has two seasons: summer and winter, lightness and darkness. Likewise, the Swedes have two personalities that go along with those seasons: outgoing and vivacious, reserved and somber. In the summer, in celebration of the midnight sun, the otherwise quiet Swedes become fun-loving. They spend the season outside, rain or shine, and every meal is a festival of freshness and goodness from the earth and the sea. Winter brings bone-chilling cold, massive snowfall, and months of nearly twenty-four-hour darkness when the sun never rises over the horizon. Swedes spend the season inside, cocooned from the arctic air, and their mood...

  6. FROM HEAVEN Hot and Chilled Soups
    (pp. 3-22)

    Hot savory soups on a cold winter’s night and cold sweet soups on a warm summer’s day are a taste of heaven. The soups of my childhood were not only rich and filling, but soothing. They made the traumas and tribulations of my youth vanish.

    As a child I always felt self-conscious because I was too skinny, too tall, too awkward. Strangers would stop my blond, blue-eyed mother in the street and say, “Bless you, bless you,” as they shook her hand because they believed she had adopted me from Biafra, where a long drought had led to massive starvation...

  7. FROM THE EARTH Potatoes
    (pp. 23-38)

    Potatoes are serious business in the very north of Sweden where I grew up, and without a doubt the world’s best potatoes are grown there. Every family grows their own. Even apartment dwellers like my grandmother had access to a government-sponsored community plot, where she could be found way past her ninetieth birthday tending our tiny potato patch.

    The most popular local variety ismandelpotatis(also known as Swedish Peanut), which is similar to a fingerling potato but denser, creamier, and full of starch. The deep yellow potato has skin so thin you hardly know it is there.

    For the...

  8. FROM THE FOREST AND THE FARM Meat, Game, and Chicken
    (pp. 39-58)

    Every summer, we traveled about two hundred miles in our 1968 white VW bug from Luleå to visit relatives near the small village of Stensele in the heart of Lapland. The highway soon gave way to smaller and smaller roads. Two hours into the trip, the roads were no longer paved and hundreds of acres of forest surrounded us. Then, from nowhere, they appeared: a sea of reindeer, crossing the road in front of our tiny car. All we could do was turn off our engine and wait. The deer will not stop for you; you stop for them. Hundreds...

  9. FROM THE SEA Fish and Shellfish
    (pp. 59-80)

    A large percentage of Swedish families—nearly a quarter of the population—have summer homes. These tiny cottages are not owned just by the wealthy; even working families, apartment dwellers like we were, have little red-and-white getaways. Our summerhouse was a two-hour drive from Luleå, deep in the forest by the edge of a large, beautiful lake. My grandfather built the home, one log at a time, in the early 1920s.

    Almost a century later, his grandchildren and their families still gather each summer at this tiny retreat. When I grew up, our cottage did not have electricity, which meant...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  11. FROM THE GARDEN Vegetables and Salads
    (pp. 81-98)

    Salads in Sweden are made mostly with cucumbers, carrots, beets, dandelion greens, cabbage, and grains or beans. The short summers do not allow much else to grow. My aunt had a small greenhouse in her yard, where a few precious tomatoes would ripen each year. She had more luck with cool-weather vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, beets, and cucumbers. She could also find dandelion greens growing wild at the side of the road. Most salads in this chapter are made using those ingredients.

    My aunt also had great success growing a small plot of strawberries. As soon as I arrived...

  12. FROM THE DELI Sandwiches
    (pp. 99-114)

    Swedish sandwiches are scrumptious, delicate works of art eaten with a knife and a fork. They are beautifully decorated, and the crown jewel of all Swedish sandwiches is thesmörgåstårta(sandwich cake).

    Sandwich cake is reserved for the most special of occasions. Like a wedding cake, it is rich and to be admired as much as it is to be eaten. But unlike a wedding cake, sandwich cake is the main course, not the sweet ending. It can be made with numerous ingredients and garnishes: layered with soft white and brown breads, spread with seafood or meats, and garnished with...

  13. FROM THE CHICKEN COOP Eggs, Waffles, and Pancakes
    (pp. 115-128)

    While my cousins and I were out fishing with my uncle at the lake by our summerhouse, my aunt would prepare us breakfast. When we returned to the house, we were greeted with the fragrance of bacon and a lofty golden pancake (page 116) baking in the oven like a billowy cloud of goodness. My aunt would fill this light and luscious pancake with crispy bacon and serve it with lingonberries and a dusting of powdered sugar. Other times she would make stacks of silver-dollarsize Swedish pancakes (page 118) for me and my cousins. We would top the towers of...

  14. FROM THE OVEN Desserts, Pastries, and Bread
    (pp. 129-156)

    It seems I spent my entire childhood and adolescence trying to fit into a place I was not sure I belonged. Not being a classic blue-eyed blond, I never thought I would have the chance to be Santa Lucia at my school. But one Christmas, against all odds, I was voted Lucia. The Swedes, always looking to buck tradition, saw the exotic possibilities in a black Lucia. For the first time, I, the ugly duckling, straightened my back and lifted my head high as I wore the crown of lit candles, the white embroidered gown, and the shiny red belt....

  15. FROM THE BAR Beverages
    (pp. 157-170)

    The most important beverage custom in Sweden is that of skål. The usually reserved Swedes become downright sociable after one or two schnapps, the ultimate icebreaker.

    Skål is traditionally done with schnapps, and often with any form of alcohol (except wine). As the evening progresses, however, all bets are off.

    The main difference between skål and a toast is that even the most shy, most inarticulate person will gladly and frequently skål. The only thing that needs to be said is that simple four-letter word. During a toast a person is usually expected to say at least a few charming...

  16. FROM THE FOREST Wild Berry Preserves
    (pp. 171-182)

    While growing up in Sweden, I never smelled fresh pineapple, tasted a fresh peach, or felt the smoothness of an avocado. But I did know the wild berries of the forest floor. The tiny summerhouse my grandfather built by the lake’s edge was hidden deep in the magical forest in the north of Sweden. At the end of the summer, bucket in hand, I would walk into the forest with my grandmother. As we followed the tiny trail, the forest became denser, darker, and more quiet. Then, around the bend, light filtered through the branches into a clearing. To the...

  17. Index
    (pp. 183-188)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 189-189)