Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cookbook Watch: Husmanskost

Husmanskost is a Swedish word, meaning traditional home cooking, sort of. It's not easy to translate, and actually, it's not so very easy to know what it means, either. Everyone has their own definition of what's Husmanskost, and what's not. But basically, old Swedish dishes are, and new Swedish dishes are not. I don't know many people that actually cook Husmanskost on a regular basis - it's not very "in" and not something you'd choose for a dinner party. But maybe that's about to change?

There's a recent cookbook with this title, by Swedish chef Leif Mannerström. It came out this fall, and is only available in Swedish. Which is a pity, because if there was ever a good book written about classical Swedish cooking, this is probably it. It'd be great for translation! But for those of you who do read Swedish - if you like classic food, and especially fish, give this book a chance. Mannerström is a bit biased towards fish, not surprisingly given his hugely successful fish and seafood restaurant in Gothenburg (Sjömagasinet), but it's of course also true that fish is fairly prominent in Swedish cooking.

You'll find classical recipes for things like Laxpudding (Salmon Pudding), Oxsvansragu (Oxtail Ragu), Stekt sill med Löksås (Fried Herring with Onion Sauce) and Kalvfrikadeller i Currysås (Veal Meatballs in Curry Sauce). And many, many more. It's a massive book, with gorgeous pictures of all the recipes. What I miss, however, are chapters. There are no chapters at all, and recipes seem to be tossed in randomly rather than in some kind of order. There's a good index, but still - it annoys me and I don't really understand the reason for structuring a book like this.

But, this is the only gripe I have with this book. It's a nice read - Mannerström adds little personal stories to most recipes - and it's very inspiring. I'm looking forward to using this book to cook more classic dishes - it's a nice challenge for me.

You can find this book for a nice price at AdLibris, a Swedish online book store.


Anonymous said...

This is exactly the kind of cookbook I'd love to read. Too bad there's no translation! Or maybe it's too bad I don't read Swedish :). While I did enjoy "modern" Swedish food in Stockholm, husmanskost has a special charm of its own.

Anonymous said...

I have it too!! Well, something else would actually be stranger than having it I guess ;).
I found it to be nice to haphazardly have a look through and come across things you haven't seen in ages. I found some things I have deemed too serious for the home kitchen (too finickity when presented by other chefs) to be very reasonable done his way. That said, when it comes to some things I wonder how he has the energy, like taking Janssons frestelse out of the oven proof dish... Don't think so mister...

I definately will cook more out of it and it will not turn into a shelf-warmer like some other books I have.

Anne said...

Shelly, I really wish there was a translation for this one. It would be excellent to introduce people to the Swedish cuisine. :)

Jessica, I completely agree. All recipes seem very approachable. (Although not all of them sound appetizing - but that's just my preference.)

Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to read about your experiences with this book as I am about exploring this type of food myself.

Caroline said...

Hello. I am from Sweden and I just bought this book today and I was googling to find a picture to put in my food - and baking site. There is one other cook in sweden who has given out a cookbook about husmanskost. His name is Per Morberg and can he cook. Time will tell if Mannerström can do the same.