One thing we’ve learned from our travels is that food is a universal language that connects people of all races, ethnicities, genders, and ages. Although we may all do it in very different ways, every culture in the world prepares food and eats it; every culture has its own traditions surrounding food; and every culture celebrates and socializes over food. So, for these reasons, you don’t have to be fluent in a country’s language to bond with the locals or gain a better sense of their culture – you simply need to immerse yourself in their cuisine.
If you’re planning a trip to Scandinavia, you have a lot of delicious and adventurous foods to look forward to! Here are some of our recommendations, in no particular order:
For Swedes, fika – which is both a verb and a noun describing a coffee break – is a part of everyday life. It’s a moment in the day to take a break, pour a cup of coffee (or tea), grab a yummy saffron or cardamom roll to pair with it, and just chill. You can fika alone or with friends, but the point is to slow down and savor the moment. In today’s hectic world, we could all learn a bit from the Swedes!
Iceland’s infamous national dish is not for the faint of heart. Hákarl – aka rotten shark – has brought the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay to their knees. Typically made from Greenland shark, this meat is actually poisonous when consumed fresh. So instead, the shark carcass is covered with gravel and buried for a few months – a tradition that dates back to the Vikings. After it’s dug up, the fermented shark meat is hung to dry for a few more months before it lands on your plate. If you’re a true adventurer, you simply have to try this dish just to say you did.
Feeling extra daring? Wash down your hákarl with a shot of Brennivín, which translates to “burning wine” but is commonly known in Iceland as “Black Death.” It’s a type of schnapps (aquavit) made from fermented grain or potatoes and flavored with caraway that will help you forget the rotten shark you just ate.
Sorry, Rudolph, but we must recommend reindeer for anyone planning a trip to Finland. Whether it’s smoked, grilled, roasted, as pate or sausage, tartare, or a topping on a pizza, reindeer meat is surprisingly delicious, and, as it turns out, very healthy. The meat is high in vitamins and essential fatty acids.
Brown cheese doesn’t really sound delicious, but stay with us, because this brown goat cheese is unlike any other cheese you’ve tried before. Geitost is a sweet, caramelized cheese made from the whey that’s left over from the production of white goat cheese. It’s often referred to as Norway’s version of Marmite, because you either love it or you hate it. Norwegians love it sliced thin and served on bread.
Smørrebrød is a Danish staple, and if you’ve never had it, you are in for a treat! This is a sandwich even “picky” eaters will love, because there are so many possible combinations. Always served open-faced, traditional smørrebrød starts with a hearty, cracked whole grain bread – similar to rye, but a bit more dense. The bread is smothered in butter, and then topped with a variety of ingredients. Popular toppings include pickled herring, cured meats, shrimp, or cheese and garnishes like fresh dill, onions, pickles, beets, and horseradish. Yum!
Don’t forget to try a “real” Danish pastry for dessert!
The name alone is enough to make these berries appealing! Known in Finnish as lakka or hilla, cloudberries look like an orange raspberry and have a sour-sweet taste. Enjoy them straight from the vine or as a jam, sauce, cream, or baked into a tart. They are also made into a liqueur.
ONE FINAL BONUS TIP:
You can’t go around tasting all the foods in Scandinavia without throwing back at least a few local drinks! For a truly authentic experience, go for aquavit – a traditional Scandinavian digestif that’s popular throughout Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.
Scandinavia is ready to play host to you – winter, spring, summer, or fall. When will your bags be packed? Our Destination Specialists can prepare the perfect itinerary for any time of the year!
We offer a wide range of itinerary suggestions to Scandinavian and Nordic countries. These can be booked as is, or we can make modifications based on your desires. Many clients have their own “wish list,” from which we can create an exceptional custom travel experience. Either way, the specifics are taken care of – from accommodations and transportation to as much or as little sightseeing as you desire. Contact us today to start planning an unforgettable trip to Scandinavia.
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