Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ode to a Swedish Sandwich

Scandinavians are a frugal people.

Swedes make Norwegians look like crazy shoppers.

Driving through the countryside from Copenhagen up North to Stockholm, we were struck by the complete absence of any roadside inns, restaurants, hot dog stands, convenience stores, or anywhere you could actually buy food. We have come to the conclusion that everyone in Sweden makes their own sandwiches at home before going anywhere in the car and then drives straight through until they arrive at their destination or they run out of sandwiches and die.

The hotels actually cater to this and provide breakfast and, in many cases, dinner, so that the Swedes can feel at home when they travel and never have to go out anywhere.

This is the world of the "smörgåsbord". Of course, having grown up in the United States, we are used to expressions like "he has a real smorgasbord of choices". I used to think that meant there was a lot to choose from.

The Swedish "smörgåsbord" is comprised of the following:

1. The bread table, which includes the flat bread or hårt, as the Swedes aptly call it.

2. Yogurt.

3. Ham and cheese.

I have found out that the word "smörgåsbord" does not actually mean "a wide medley of choices", but comes from two separate words, "smörgås", which means sandwich, and "bord" which means board. So, basically, when someone in Sweden says "Vell, Sven he has dere a real smörgåsbord of choices!" What he is actually saying is, "Want a ham sandwich?"

The sandwich bread is comprised of a couple of loaves of "normal bread" (as in edible), a couple of loaves of "really really dark and heavy bread" (as in marginally edible), and baskets and baskets of "flat bread" (which is inedible). They actually have a huge collection of flat breads in Sweden. The one thing they have in common is that they are very, very hårt, which is Swedish for hard. They have baskets and baskets of them. As far as I can tell, none of the Swedes actually eat them.

We have been taking samples of the various types of flat bread.

They are disturbingly similar.

We even have an example of flat bread from a medieval castle.

My personal theory is that all the flat bread in Sweden was made back in the Middle Ages and has been handed down, from generation to generation, in little baskets that are put out for visiting foreigners as a Swedish joke. After having a couple of tries at the "hårt", most of us give up and the remaining massive cache of "hårt" lives on for future generations.

Just a theory, but I'm sticking with it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great theory on the Middle Ages Flat bread.LOL