Scandinavia is a collective term used to refer to the peninsula in northern Europe occupied by Sweden and Norway. Scandinavia can also be used to include Denmark because of the latter’s political, cultural, and historical ties with both Norway and Sweden. Since they are most often considered as the descendants of the Vikings, it is no surprise that even in modern times many of their ancestors’ food are still consumed nowadays and are prepared in similar ways. In Scandinavia, ingredients are often sourced from the sea, lake or even the earth.
Scandinavian meals are typically simple and hearty. Meals are usually eaten three times a day and most people take coffee breaks during the day. Breakfast normally consists of bread or porridge. It is mostly light and therefore consumption of fruits, cheeses, eggs or potatoes are not unusual as well. During winter or cold months, porridge is usually substituted with fruit soups served together with cheese and bread and topped with cream. Being rich in seafood, it is not surprising that herring can also be consumed during breakfast.
For lunch, smorgasbords or bread and butter buffet tables are a common practice in Scandinavia. In Sweden, the buffet table will usually consist of a selection of hot and cold dishes. Herring is usually consumed first and is then followed by other dishes concocted from fish and seafood. Swedes then consume meat, salad, and a hot dish respectively before consuming dessert as the last part of their meal.
In Denmark, people will more often eat open-faced sandwiches that are topped with items like sausages, smoked salmon, herring, cheese, vegetables and potatoes. A typical dinner will then consist of several courses which may include appetizer, soup, main course or the entrée, vegetables and dessert. In the winter, a popular food item that is usually served is pea soup served with pancakes. In Denmark however, starters are not usually served in homes during dinner and the menu will just typically consist of meat, usually pork, served with boiled potatoes and a side of vegetables or salads.
Desserts consumed in the Scandinavian area are mostly pancakes with preserves, pastries and fruit pies. Swedes are famous for their butter cookies while Danes are more popular for their numerous pastry products. It is common for Scandinavians to consume dairy products heavily and cheese is even served at almost every meal.
As mentioned earlier, fish is probably the major component in the Scandinavian diet. Scandinavia is considered to be the major supplier of fish in the European region. Dishes from fish are the most extensive in the Scandinavian area. Norway is famous for lobsters and prawns, Sweden for crayfish and Denmark for its oysters. Traditionally, meat was originally in limited supplies so it was often combined with other ingredients. However, recently Scandinavians have become hearty meat consumers. In Denmark, pork is the major meat product consumed while in other Scandinavian regions also hunt and consume deer, wild birds, elk, and bear meat.
Preserved food items are commonly consumed throughout the region. Preservation methods often used are drying, smoking, or pickling of fish and meat products. Fruits are also dried or preserved into jams while milk is often fermented. The drying of fruits and vegetables is done to ensure that they will still be available even during the fall and winter months. Generally, Scandinavian diets tend to high in fat and salt content thus elevating the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Fortunately, there are now several products available on Scandinavian markets that can help supplement their diet and still promote a healthy heart and build one’s immunity at the same time.
About the Author: Iris Aroa and Joyce Del Rosario are lifestyle bloggers. They write for Bodylab.dk, a trusted health and fitness website in Denmark.