Swedish Midsummer Magic
This time of year, I long to be in Sweden. I’ve had a life-long love affair with Sweden, its culture, cuisine, and people. I’m so grateful that finally the world has caught on that my beloved Sweden is a recognized culinary destination.
Swedish cuisine is the ultimate “nouvelle” cuisine. It is simple, fresh, and is naturally local and seasonal. It’s elegant, yet down-to-earth, which is also a perfect description of the Swedish people, and even Swedish design.
The daughter of a Swedish mother and an American father, I’ve been visiting Sweden since a little girl. During my regular visits, I soaked in every possible aspect of Swedish food and cooking. I took many fishing trips in the Baltic Sea on my Uncle Olle’s small motor boat. I received early lessons on cleaning, smoking, grilling, pickling – and any method one could name – of preparing fresh fish.
I was raised in the Swedish culinary tradition. I’ve picked wild blueberries, strawberries and mushrooms in the Swedish archipelago, then watched as my grandmother (mormor) and Aunt Ingrid prepared treats with the bounty. Growing up, I and my mother dined regularly on crepes with lingonberries and cream – one of my favorite dinners (though now I use yogurt instead of cream! Naturligtvis!). I’ve delighted in all the unique foods my family introduced me to: the grainy rye breads, the special cheeses and yogurts, the smoked reindeer meat, the delicate, sweet, and tiny Swedish shrimps, caviar, crayfish, and of course, meatballs and lingonberry sauce!
If you are not a Swede or Scandinavian, you may not know that summer is the most special time of year. For weeks on end the sun never sets in Sweden’s summertime. It’s daylight round-the-clock.
Every year, during one of those “white nights” – the Friday nearest the 24th of June – the nation turns out to feast until morning. After long winter months of what seems like never-ending darkness, sun-starved Swedes join the rest of Scandinavia in celebrating the summer solstice – the year’s longest day.
Swedes call the celebration Midsummer Eve.
It is more than just a holiday, however. Midsummer Eve, often lasting through Saturday – and sometimes the whole weekend – is the national excuse for the biggest parties of the year. The revelry is non-stop.