Get to know Swedish food when you go on holiday in West Sweden. You can plan a terrific food vacation since this is a particularly rich part of the country for culinary exploration. The coast offers up bountiful Swedish seafood - take a lobster safari or take a herring-pickling class. The main city of Gothenburg offers a delightful twist on the traditional coffee break, and wash it all down with schnapps and a Swedish drinking song.
Pulling Up a Lobster Pot off of Fiskebäckskil in West Sweden. Photo by Alison Stein Wellner
The word "safari" sounds extra exotic, bringing to mind the savannas of Africa. In Sweden, there aren't tigers and giraffes to gawk at, but there's something more tasty: lobster. The Swedish lobster season kicks off on the first Monday after September 20th, and stretches until the end of April. The waters are filled with amateurs and pros setting their pots and hauling them back up again, and several operators offer travelers a chance to go along with them -- this a lobster safari. Hook up with a fishing outfitter
to find the right lobster safari for you. You'll often find lobster safari packages, such as the one offered by Brygghuset, a restaurant, in conjunction with the Gullmarsstrand
hotel. See photos of a lobster safari here.
2. Learn to Prepare Pickled Herring
Your Culinary Travel Guide (left) Pickling Herring. Photo by Tommi Anttonen
Herring, or sill
, in Swedish, is a historic staple of the Scandinavian diet. This fatty fish is typically preserved while fresh with the use of salt. The pickled herring is then served in a variety of sauces and garnishes, to add substance to potato salad, the basis of a savory tart and much much more. The Salt & Sill Hotel
, in the herring production center of Klädesholmen, offers a cooking class that teaches you how to work with this flavorful fish.
3. Enjoy "Fika", a Swedish Coffee Break
Chocolate Kannel Bulle from biscuit in Gothenburg, Sweden. Photo by Alison Stein Wellner
You've got your breakfast, your lunch, your dinner, and in Sweden you've also got something else: fika, which is a coffee break. It's a social convention, in the category of British tea, and it typically includes coffee (or sometimes tea) and a sweet treat, which could be a cookie, or even better, kanelbullar or cinnamon buns. These are typically less sweet than the insulin-shock inducing varieties typically found in the United States, and are a bit spicy, thanks to the addition of cardamom. They have a slight crunch thanks to a dusting of pearl sugar.
4. Raise a Glass of Schnapps and Say "Skol!"
A small glass of strong alcohol is part of the experience of being in Sweden, whether it's something you have before a day of fishing (or after), with a meal, or after dinner. Schnapps (pronounced "snaps" in Swedish) can be also be called brännvin
, which is a generic term for distilled spirits. This can include vodka, or akvavit, which is also distilled from grain or potatoes but includes aromatic herbs, like anise, coriander, caraway seeds, fennel. Don't be surprised if people start singing after the initial toast of "skol" (cheers) -- a typical Swedish drinking song is called Helan Går