One of the best things about living abroad is making friends who are willing to share the ways of their country with you. Most importantly, the food!
My Swedish friends from Luleå were pretty awesome in that regard, as we managed to cook various things together quite often, so this post is going to be about the Swedish food they taught me how to make.
I think the first Swedish thing we ever made from scratch were kanelbulle or cinnamon rolls, which wasn’t really planned, as my friend was making them to take to work and I came over to
help out eat them. Cinnamon rolls are a Swedish classic for coffee breaks, along with kladdkaka, the awesome chocolate mud cake. I was actually surprised by how easy and fast it was to make them, so I’ll definitely be making them myself in the future. You can find a recipe here.
#1: Palt (potato-flour dumplings)
The next time we cooked Swedish food was serious business and I learned how to make palt, a sort of potato-flour dumplings, which are a typical comfort food from northern Sweden. Like with any traditional food, there are as many variations of palt as there are households, so even my friends didn’t quite agree on the preparation method amongst themselves. However, the dumplings are always made of raw potatoes and two different kinds of flour and eaten with butter and lingonberry jam. They are supposed to be filled with pork meat, but we made the meat on the side. One of my friends claimed they cooked better that way, which was apparently a very controversial issue. Either way, our palt turned out great and we ate so much my stomach hurt afterwards, which I was told meant we did it right, because palt is supposed to induce a lengthy food coma. 🙂 You can find a similar recipe to what we made here, but I also made my own how-to video below:
#2: Västerbottensostpaj (cheese pie)
The next thing I learned to make is also my favourite Swedish food of all: the Västerbotten cheese pie. Anyone who has ever met me probably knows that I love all types of cheese, preferably in large quantities. If I had to choose only two things to survive on, they would be cheese and green tea, so this pie was right up my alley. Västerbottenost essentially means cheese from Western Bothnia, which is a type hard, aged of cheese that has gained a cult following in Sweden during the last few decades. The cheese pie has thus become a staple for holidays and special occasions, and with good reason. It basically consists of lots of melted cheese, butter and eggs, so it is pure happiness, and it is usually eaten with sour cream and chives. You can find the recipe here.
Like everything in Sweden, the cheese is also a little bit quirky: due to the high demand the company tried to expand production out of the origin city of Burträsk, which proved impossible, as the cheese just didn’t taste the same. Despite countless analysis and several documentaries, no explanation has been found and the cheese refuses to be moved from its hometown.
Understandably, the price is not the lowest, so the Swedes are pretty serious about any cheese sales. There was one in the supermarket next to my house once and I snagged the last two chunks of it, which sent the next shopper into a panic – she literally attacked the supermarket employee and demanded to know if they might have more discounted cheese hidden somewhere. Considering the Swedish unwritten rule about not standing out or drawing attention, Västerbottensost is serious business indeed.
Anyhow, after the first time my friends and I made the cheese pie several more times, including for Midsommar, and I even made it at home in Slovenia with great success when I visited in April. Now I just have to figure out how to get a lifetime supply of the cheese when I permanently move back home again…