Much awareness has been made to French, Italian even Asian cuisine, but has anyone ever given thought to Scandinavian food?? You will be surprised to know just how influential this culture has impacted foods in America.
For a region who’s reputation of a barren land, natives of no culture, etiquette and a rough and frozen terrain , not to mention a history of Barbaric Vikings, it is understandable of where this assumption would be made.
In reality, the food is uncomplicated, varied and a harmonious balance with nature. A natural balance of food and drink is key to this cultural cuisine.
So what is a good representation of Scandinavian food?
Due to its coastal location, fish is of course the obvious by definition. However, pork and poultry are also common threads. The lands produce beets, potatoes, cucumbers, dill, parsley, apples, almonds, and horseradish as well. The foods are allowed to promote its natural flavors and are not masked by heavy sauces or additional ingredients. Fish will taste of the fresh lakes they were caught, mushrooms or Ligonberries will showcase their woodsy origins.
It is also said that Scandinavian cuisine can also be romantic fare, with a history of fairy tales that include curds and whey or porridge and fruit tarts. The oysters and mussels enjoyed by Vikings is said to be a true love affair. Vikings indulged in their love of mutton, cheese, cabbage, apples, onions, berries and nuts ultimately becoming quite the staple of the Scandinavian diet. Norwegians have been known to believe that a properly marinated and broiled seafood and the Swedes shared their love affair of smoked meats. So, it’s possible that the art of smoking and curing meats did somehow NOT originate in the South, since food preservation was vital to their survival and Vikings learned how to smoke, dry and salt their meats and fish. The threat of starvation WAS REAL!
Vikings sea travels to found places like Iceland, they would bravely board cows, sheep and horses to return home. But the land was unforgiving. The cattle would be so weak from the minimal winter diet rations of shredded bark and straw they would need to be carried out to pasture. Later, this would remarkably turn around with salmon rushing upstream to nets and lakes that would thaw with the warm spring air, were home to a bounty of spawning fish, including herring that were flowing down the coasts in such massive quantities that caused them to suffocate others.
The exploration of Leif Erikson is said to be how Scandinavian cooking was brought to America, along with the iconic The Norse stove, which is a cast iron Dutch oven was introduced to the colonies of the 18th century, and a MUST HAVE for any true Southern Cook!
Which can all be summed up to America being one big MELTING POT of cultures and foods from every corner of the World. The vast majority of culinary influences in the US we can safely conclude did NOT originate IN America, but were pieces of HOME from the many immigrants that have stepped onto our shores.