Moving to Sweden, I was a little worried that either the food would be horrible or crazy expensive. I had checked this online but you never really know until you move somewhere.
The food is great. Living on a bit of a budget means I have not had many chances to try traditional Swedish cuisine but those things that I have tried have been lovely.
In the first term students on my course were invited to a whole day ‘workshop’ where we listened to a range of talks form various speaker from all over the world. Because the workshop ran all day, food was provided. When we first arrived we were greeted with coffee (or tea) and open sandwiches of cheese or ham. At 11 we had ‘fika’ (a Swedish term that means a break for coffee and cake). At 12.30 we had a buffet lunch which consisted of a salad bar, warm sausages and bread. There were more cakes. biscuits and coffee, as well at cold drinks including beer. In the afternoon we again had fika. I had been under the impression that Swedish food came in small portions and was very healthy. This is partially true but the love of fika outweighs most attempts at healthy eating. When I see all the slim Swedes tucking into piles of cake I am always surprised.
Swedish cakes are delicious but quite different to English ones. Often the ‘cakes’ have a texture that is much more like a croissant or ‘danish’ pastry, rather than sponge cake. The flavours are also different, in many of the cakes I have tried there are spices such as cinnamon, or saffron. At Christmas saffron in especially common. Nuts are also fairly commonly used in cakes. My husband is in love with ‘kanelbullar’- a traditional Swedish pastry that tastes strongly of cinnamon.
Most shops sell items very similar to those I am used to in England, including cakes and bread. A friend on my course pointed out though that the range of bread sold is perhaps more limited than in other parts of Europe. I suppose this is true as it is usually only larger supermarkets that sell anything other than sliced bread.
Another friend on my course, who happens to be Swedish, revealed that she bakes her own bread. Feeling inspired I gave it a go. I have had some success though I’m not sure my bread is as good as hers. However it was probably cheaper than buying a fresh loaf from the supermarket and it definitely beats sliced bread.
The two most ubiquitous supermarkets in Sweden are coop and ICA. Most small towns have one or the other, if not both and in Linköping you will easily find a number of each. Both stores offer student discount cars which are a good way to save a bit of cash.
I enjoy baking so I’ve made a lot of cakes while living in Sweden but I’ve not yet had the courage to make any traditional Swedish cakes. I’m a little worried my attempts will be awful- besides it gives me a good excuse to keep trying cakes when I see them in the shop or while enjoying fika with friends.