Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Questions - now with answers!

So - I let you ask the questions, and here are my answers! This turned out to be a very long post! Thanks for contributing everyone, it's been a lot of fun and I'll definitely do this again! (And of course, you're always welcome to ask me anything!)

Deborah asked: Have most people in Sweden eaten a taco? And if so did it have the Taco Bell-style pre-fabricated shell?

Yes, totally! Tacos, and tex-mex is extremely popular here. Indeed, a lot of Swedes eat tacos every Friday or at least a few times a month. And sadly, they all have the pre-fabricated version. You can't buy masa in Sweden, so noone makes their own tortillas or chips, and all that are sold are pretty low-quality. Strangely, there are almost no Mexican restaurants (certainly no high-end, and just a few fast-food varieties) at all, despite Swedes obviously liking the flavors so much. A Swedish taco evening typically has hard shells, perhaps soft flour tortillas as well, seasoned ground beef, salsa from a jar, minced onions, corn, grated cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and perhaps some taco sauce. Some add weird stuff like bananas or peanuts. A friend of mine insists on hamburger dressing on hers...

John K asked: What type of cuisine, that you enjoy, would you say is not very easy to find in restaurants in Stockholm?

That's easy: Mexican. Upscale, good quality Mexican. There's nothing.

Cecilia asked: What's your favorite traditional Swedish food? Do you think you could post more Swedish recipes? It's so hard to find Swedish recipes on the internet that are in English!

I'd have to say Swedish meatballs, served with cream sauce, boiled potatoes and lingonberries. I' not a huge fan of traditional Swedish food in general, which is probably why I don't blog about it all that much. I could do an effort though - any dishes in particular that you all would like to see me make?

Courtney asked:
So I am a little obsessed with the ligonberry jelly at Ikea, since Ikea is Swedish I might be stereotyping but do you use this a lot and what is your favorite dish to use it in?

Oh, it *is* a very popular condiment! I don't eat it much myself, but I definitely want it with my meatballs. Or my Wallenbergare. Or my kåldolmar. (Neither of which I eat more than once a year or so.) It's also a must on potato pancakes ("raggmunk"), or with black pudding. The best kind is just lingonberries stirred with sugar, raw - my mom makes that once a year, and I usually get a few jars to put in the freezer. It keeps extremely well.

Michele asked:
Is there a traditional New Years meal in Sweden?

Nope! Just a bit fancier than usual - the stores seem to sell a lot of lobster and beef tenderloin. And lots of champagne!

Three Cookies had three questions: Why is there no KFC, or restaurants selling fried chicken?
What is your favourite non-Swedish food? What is your favourite cookie?

As to the first one, good question! I wish there was a KFC! They did try back in 1980, though. I suppose fried chicken just isn't a big part of our culture, even though chicken is quite popular. There is a fast food restaurant called Rooster though - not a chain, just a single shop (that closed down, then re-opened with what I think are new owners and less good food) that has all chicken on the menu. Fairly good, but nothing like KFC.

My favourite non-Swedish food.. well, that one takes some thought. I like a lot of different cuisines - Chinese, Thai, Mexican (hey, if they use cilantro, I like it!), Italian, classic French... nothing much beats a great steak. But if I'd have to pick a single dish, I'd say quesadillas. At least it's one of the things I eat most often - it's our go-to dish for when we're grumpy and too tired to cook much. (And I forgot to mention my dad's Pelmeenid! It's Estonian and absolutely great!)

And as for my favorite cookie, I'm very partial to these hazelnut cookies.

Samantha asked:
So, this may be a little naive, but is English a well-spoken language in Sweden? Also, after reading your entire blog (yes, I did - ha!) and noticing late last year there was a sort of "blogging by mail" event going on, would you ever want to start one of those yourself - in high hopes to getting some of the food that you would not traditionally get elsewhere?

Yes, English is spoken by pretty much everyone! It's mandatory in schools from age 10 (possibly even younger these days) and since Swedes don't dub their movies, everyone is exposed to a lot of English language. That has its ups and downs, but for tourists, it's great. People are happy to help, and definitely do NOT expect you to know any Swedish.

And hey, good idea! It's been a long time since I participated in a blogging event like that (or any blogging events really). Definitely something to look into for 2011.

Meri asked:
1. To what extent is Swedish food vegetarian-friendly?
2. What's your approach to cooking/baking for your boy? (who looks very cute, if I may add) Is he interested in food and kitchen stuff?

Well, traditional Swedish food is *not* very veggie-friendly. It's heavy on the meat and fish, for sure. But as for actually eating vegetarian in Sweden, it's easy. Just about all restaurants have a lot of veggie options, and both vegetarianism and veganism are fairly well-spread these days.

Oh, I really want Titus to be very involved in cooking and baking! He got a little play kitchen for his first birthday and he has tons of pretend food. (I even bought him a wooden sushi set... ) So - imagine my shock when he turned out to be one of those kids who wasn't very interested in food! He didn't start on solids until late, and really only started eating a lot around when he was one year. (He totally refused baby food, anything puréed. I read up on baby-led weaning, and that's pretty much how we've done it.) He's however exposed to a lot of different food, and enjoys almost everything now. He doesn't like any kind of pasta (weird, I know) and is very conservative when it comes to fruit. (Apples are his favorite, and he'll accept bananas.) However, he loves coriander and doesn't mind spicy food at all. His very favorite: risotto. All kinds.

Maisa has an interesting one!
Following your blog I know that you love food and work in politics. What is on your agenda when it comes to Swedish and/or EU food politics?

(Let's just make clear that I work in very local politics and don't have anything to do with actual food politics.) My main concern is to make sure people are well informed. I'm happy that you have to put a lot of information on the labels, and I know people are learning more and more about making good choices. I really do believe in the individual's right to make that choice though! I don't think "fat tax" is a good idea, and I'm against the farmer subsidies in the EU. I'm concerned about diversity and thus not happy about the Swedish department of agricultures latest idea to make it harder for people to grow small crops. (Ok, not super-well explained, I'm afraid.) On a local level, I think it's really important to have good food in the schools and pre-schools, to teach kids not only about nutrition but also about the joy of good food. It should be tasty and healthy!

Annekids asked: Last summer we were on holidays in Sweden. Beautiful country, lovely people! We ate a lot of Hallakaka bread(maybe I wrote it completely wrong, I hope you understand what I mean). Here in Holland I would like to bake it too, but I can't find the recipe. I hope you can help me, I would appreciate it!

Hällakaka! I've never tried making it myself, but I'll be happy to give it a go. Thanks for the suggestion!

Gaviota asked: I was wondering if you knew where to order Dala horse cookie cutters from?

I found a store here. They seem to ship internationally, so send them an e-mail! (If it's any problem with payment, let me know and I'll help.)

Eileen asked:
I grew up with Swedish/American cooking. My 1st generation grandmother always used clove along with cinnamon in apple pie and sweet rolls, and added clove to "stewed chicken," because her Mor did. I think her Mor might have been from Skane. Is this typical of Swedish cooking?

It is! Cloves are used quite a bit, and I think it's especially common in Southern Swedish cooking. They're also used a lot at christmas, and a common christmas decoration is studding an orange with cloves. The scent is delicious!

Lisa asked: I saw this segment on the today show that claimed swedish people eat a kind of hot dog dipped in cornmeal fried for new years, is that true? I've been to sweden many times and have never heard of it.

Never heard of it, and I really, REALLY doubt it since you can't even buy cornmeal here.

Aimee asked: when you travel in Sweden where are your favorite places to go (outside of Stockholm of course)? And-do you tend to like more outdoor activities (camping, skiing, hiking and such) or indoor activities (museums, theatre, etc)?

Well, we mostly really travel to visit family in friends. We do have a cabin about four hours north of here, in Dalarna, which is a beautiful spot. It's a great place for outdoor activities. We often go to Linköping/Motala where my in-laws live, and we also try to go to Gothenburg to visit with friends about once a year or so. I rarely travel north anymore, but I used to do quite a bit of downhill skiing when I was younger.


Melissa said...

When I lived in Sweden I missed Mexican food, but I also missed food from the Southern US. None of my Swedish friends knew anything about it...

But lo and behold, there was some very fine majs flour in the gluten-free section of the store. It was called Ströbröd / Majsmjöl and it wasn't too far off from the dry masa sold here. I also bought polenta at an "ethnic" store.

Using the majs flour I made tamales, fresh soft taco shells, fried shrimp, and fried chicken. Using polenta I made a rough approximation of "grits" and cornbread.

My Swedish friends loved my fried chicken and biscuits. If I ever moved back to Sweden I'd love to start a chickin n' biscuit restaurant :)

Purple_snail said...

KFC = good food? I wish there weren't any of those low-quality chicken places in Copenhagen...

Anonymous said...

That was fun--thank you! :)

Lisa@ButteryBooks said...

I am from Texas where there is a Mexican restaurant on every corner and eat it at least once a week. Can't imagine life without it! It sounds like starting a Mexican restaurant in Sweden would be a great business opportunity.

Loved the post!

Pene said...

Interesting to read questions & answers, Anne.
I'd like to know: what makes Hällakaka bread different from ordinary bread?
On Christmas Eve I tried some lingonberries that had curry spices added to it, so more savoury. Different but delicious!

Anne said...

Melissa - THANK YOU, I'll definitely look for that! Polenta is easy enough to find, but I had no idea the ströbröd/majsmjöl could work instead of masa. Must give that a go!

Purple_snail - well, not "good" good food. But sometimes it hits the spot and I miss it..

Lisa - you bet!

Pene - Hällakaka is a flatbread, traditionally baked in a wood-fired oven (but I'd have to fry it stove-top). It's baked with wheat and rye flour and I think it has baking powder rather than yeast.

Anonymous said...

you may already know this but in case you don't... there is a pretty good taco shop next to the muffin bakery in hötorget, called la neta. i love, love mexican food and being from california, i know i'm a bit spoiled but their tacos al pastor are just about spot on! biiiiig plus is that they have homemade tortillas, which you can also purchase! MUMS!

Anne said...

Totally true, La Neta is awesome! :)