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Introduction to Scandinavian Cuisine

German Cuisine, Scandinavia, Scandinavian

Scandinavian peoples, like other people who live in Northern Europe, enjoy a cuisine that is based on foods that can survive in cold climates. Their cuisine is based on pork, sausages, duck and other fowl, lamb, seafood, cabbage, potatoes, root vegetables like beets, rutabagas and turnips, mushrooms, dill, caraway, mustard, dairy products, and juniper berries. In the far north of Sweden and Norway reindeer are eaten. Spices like cardamom and cinnamon have become a staple but were originally imported. Berries of all kinds (raspberries, lingonberries, and cloudberries) are prized during the short summers and are used to make all kinds of desserts. Soups made from dried fruit are unique and popular, especially during the wintertime. Fruits that grow well in cold climates are eaten as well, including apples and currants. Scandinavians are well-known for their pancakes, cookies and pastries.

The Scandinavian countries have their own versions of an “open sandwich”, which consists of one piece of bread with some kind of topping placed on it, which can be as fancy as caviar, salmon, or breaded pork or as simple as pickles and cheese. Some open sandwiches are elaborate with many different ingredients including meats, fish, vegetables (pickled and fresh), and condiments.

Each country has its own characteristics. Iceland’s cuisine is a little bit different than that of mainland Scandinavia. Icelanders eat a lot of lamb and dairy and have come up with innovative uses for many of the parts of the sheep. There is also a famous Icelandic dish known as hakarl, in which a piece of shark meat is basically decomposed and then hung to dry for a period of time, usually several months, and then eaten. Some people might believe Norwegian and Swedish cuisine is the same thing, but Norwegian cuisine relies more on seafood than Sweden’s. Denmark, being geographically close to Germany, has some dishes that overlap with German cuisine.

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Some typical dishes of Scandinavia are as follows:

Fruit soup, made from either fresh or dried fruit, is very delicious. The dried fruit soups are very rich and often highly spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, or cloves.

Gravlax, Sweden’s famous salt-cured salmon, is often served as an appetizer on rye crackers with sour cream and dill.

Lutefisk is a Norwegian dish in which dried cod is preserved in lye. It sounds dangerous to eat but it is edible once the lye has been removed.

Frikadeller are Danish-style meatballs. They tend to be flatter than the meatballs with which people are usually familiar.

Scandinavian cuisines are surprisingly diverse, and flavorful with the use of spices that were originally foreign. Foods from these countries are definitely worth trying.


Mapes, Terri. “Scandinavian Cuisine: Food in Scandinavia.” About.com

Scandinavian Cooking. “Recipes.” Scandinavian Cooking.com

Swanberg, Lena Katarina, and Carl Jan Granqvist. “Swedish Culinary Classics.” Sweden.se

Explore North. “A Taste of Norway.” Explore North.

Jo’s Icelandic Recipes. “How to Prepare ‘Rotten’ Shark.” Isholf.is