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FOOD AND DRINK

Goose blood? Five Scanian specialities you may or may not want to try

With its warm climate and fertile land, the southern county of Skåne has some of the best ingredients in Sweden. Here are five of the most famous Scanian delicacies.

Goose blood? Five Scanian specialities you may or may not want to try
Crown Princess Victoria presumably wondering what on earth she's supposed to do with this Scanian 'spit cake'. Photo: Mikael Fritzon/TT

Perhaps the best places to sample Skåne’s delicacies are in the traditional gästgiveri or gästis found in the country towns of Sweden’s most southerly county. You will need a healthy appetite!

Äggakaka

This artery-stopping, blubbery pancake, fried in pig fat and butter, and served with slices of fried smoked pork, is something you should only really eat if you’re going to spend the rest of the day harvesting the fields. And indeed, it was originally given to labourers to keep them going during the autumn harvest.

With five eggs to 400ml of milk, and just 100g of flour, it’s almost an omelette. It is traditionally served with smoked pork or bacon, chopped white cabbage, and jam made from lingonberries. Some of Skåne’s gästis restaurants celebrate harvest-time with all-you-can-eat äggakaka. Be very careful.

If you want to try making it yourself, here’s our favourite recipe.

The Eel dinner or ‘Ålagille’

Ålahue, or “eel-head”, is perhaps the best of Skåne’s rich stock of insults, and it reflects the eel fisheries which used to abound on the east coast around the town of Åhus, and in the county’s inland waters.

The abundant fish used to be the centre of traditional eel-eating parties or ålagille, where people in Skåne would gather to scoff as many of the slimy, snake-like fish as they could. A traditional eel dinner features the fish cooked in just about every way you can imagine: fried, boiled in soup, hot smoked, salted, and more.

A dramatic decline in eel stocks in 2007 led to a ban on fishing eel in Sweden, but the regulation allowed fishermen “for whom eel is an important part of their economy” to apply for a permit, meaning eel fishing still continues.

Be aware that the eel is considered a critically endangered species, so you may want to take that into account before you feast on them. That said, you can still see plenty of smoked eel advertised at smokeries around the lakes and coasts of southern Sweden.

St Martin’s Day Goose

In the weeks around November 10th, Skåne, like France and other countries, celebrates the festival of St Martin with lavish goose dinners which use everything from the goose except the beak.

Perhaps the most famous St Martin dish is the sweet and sour svartsoppa, or ‘black soup’, made from the blood and stock of the goose, seasoned with mashed fruit, spices and brandy. Aficionados buy frozen goose blood in plastic bags to make it at home. The soup is traditionally served with offal such as the liver, the heart, the neck, and also with the wings.

READ ALSO: Why southern Swedes feast on goose blood in November

Spettekaka

Spettekaka, which literally means “cake on a spit”, is a sweet, meringue-like cake, made and sold all over Skåne.

It is made by dripping a batter made of eggs, potato flour and sugar onto a skewer which is then rotated over a heat source, traditionally an open fire. The resulting confection looks spectacular but is extremely fragile and needs to be carefully cut with a hacksaw to prevent it shattering.

For big festive occasions, you might see a spettekaka a metre or more in height. The record, baked in Sjöbo in 1985 was 3.6 metres high. Versions of spit cakes can be found across Europe, with varieties in Poland, Austria, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovenia.

It is very dry, so is best washed down with copious cups of powerful coffee, ice cream or port wine.

Brännesnuda

This hearty winter soup is surprisingly healthy, with hefty quantities of leek, carrots, parsnips and cabbage far outweighing the ham hock that gives it its flavour. It is served with grainy Scanian mustard, grated horseradish and chopped parsley.

It can really demonstrate the quality of vegetables grown in Skåne and is probably best consumed at the home of a friendly Skåning.

READ MORE ABOUT LIFE IN SKÅNE:

Member comments

  1. Äggakaka is absolutely wonderful! The key is finely chopped apples; ideally a bright or sour variety, combined with the cabbage. It balances the heavy, velvety äggakaka, and smoky grease flavours (we use bacon).

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For members

SWEDISH TRADITIONS

EXPLAINED: The history (and controversy) behind Sweden’s national folk costume

The Swedish national folk costume worn by Queen Silvia on National Day has gained popularity over the past few decades. The blue and yellow dress, however, has a peculiar - and controversial - history.

EXPLAINED: The history (and controversy) behind Sweden's national folk costume

The Swedish national folk costume (Sverigedräkten) has seen a resurgence in popularity over the past few decades.

You can see it often – during festive occasions, in popular culture (such as movies depicting Sweden), and on teachers who wear it for graduations.

Furthermore, Sweden’s Queen Silvia dons the national folk costume (virtually) every year on National Day, often in the company of other royal family members who do the same, such as Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Madeleine, and Princess Estelle.

Judging by the frequently positive (international media) attention this attracts, one would think that the national costume’s roots are well-grounded in history and tradition.

However, the reality is that the Swedish national costume is neither ancient nor traditionally Swedish.

Its roots trace back to the early 20th century, to a time when nationalism was booming.

The work of a controversial designer

The costume was designed by Märta Jörgensen, a designer who drew inspiration from local Sörmland (an area on the southeastern coast of Sweden) costumes to create a practical, everyday dress for Swedish women.

Her goal was to foster a sense of national pride and provide an alternative to the restrictive, expensive, and hard-to-clean European fashion of the time.

Jörgensen’s nationalist enthusiasm extended beyond fashion; she was active in a fascist movement called Swedish Opposition (Svensk Opposition) that later evolved into the far-right New Swedish Movement (Nysvenska rörelsen).

The costume experienced a revival during the 1970s’ “green wave,” a period marked by a restored interest in folk culture and craftsmanship in Sweden.

In the late 1970s, the Nordic Museum reintroduced the dress at an exhibition, sparking new interest once again.

Yet, it wasn’t until Queen Silvia wore it in the early 1980s, coinciding with the official designation of June 6th as Sweden’s National Day, that the costume truly gained traction and prominence.

The question of why Sweden celebrates its National Day on June 6th is harder to answer than you might think. The Local has a detailed explainer that delves into the question.

Today, the costume such a mainstay of popular culture that you’ll often see young people wearing it on social media.

What do experts think?

Despite its royal endorsement, the costume remains contentious among experts.

Ulla Centergran, an ethnologist and researcher, told the newspaper Aftonbladet in 2022 that the costume lacked traditional roots and was created from flag fabric, which some find trivial compared to Sweden’s rich collection of over 600 village costumes.

However, Centergran made a positive comment about the royal family’s choice to wear the costume on National Day, describing the choice as both practical and symbolic.

“It fits well that they are dressed in the Swedish flag; who should be dressed in the Swedish flag if not the royal family?” the researcher said.

READ MORE: Why does secular Sweden have so many religious public holidays?

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