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Smörgåsbord and Julbord

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Smörgåsbord (in Swedish) is a type of Scandinavian meal served buffet-style with multiple dishes of various foods on a table. In Norway it is called koldtbord and in Denmark it is called kolde bord.

Left: A plate from a smörgåsbord.

It is typically a celebratory meal and guests can help themselves from a range of dishes laid out for their choice. In a restaurant, the term refers to a buffet-style table laid out with many small dishes from which, for a fixed amount of money, one is allowed to choose as many as one wishes.

The Swedish word smörgåsbord consists of the words smörgås (open-faced sandwich) and bord (table).

A traditional Swedish smörgåsbord consists of both hot and cold dishes. Bread, butter and cheese is always part of the smörgåsbord. It is customary to begin with the cold fish dishes which are generally various form of herring, salmon and eel. After eating the first portion, people usually continue with the second course (other cold dishes), and round off with hot dishes. Dessert may or may not be included in a smörgåsbord.

A special type of smörgåsbord is the julbord which is the standard Christmas dinner in Scandinavian countries. Julbord is a word consisting of the elements jul, meaning Yule (today synonymous with Christmas) and bord, literally table. The classic Swedish julbord is the highlight of Swedish cuisine, a traditional smörgåsbord starting with bread dipped in the ham broth and continuing with serving the table, a variety of fish (salmon, herring, whitefish and eel), ham, small meatballs, head cheese and sausages, potato, boiled or potato casserole, soft and crisp bread, butter and different cheeses, beetroot salad, cabbage (red, brown or green) and rice pudding and beverage.

As with the smörgåsbord, the traditional julbord is typically eaten in three courses. The dishes includes local and family specialties.

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Above: Julbord Christmas dinner with several traditional Swedish dishes

The first course would typically be a variety of fish, particularly pickled herring and lox (gravlax). It is customary to eat particular foods together; herring is typically eaten with boiled potatoes and hard-boiled eggs and is frequently accompanied by strong spirits like snaps, brännvin or akvavit with or without spices. Other traditional dishes would be (smoked) eel, rollmops, herring salad, baked herring, smoked salmon and crab canapés, accompanied by sauces and dips.

The second course is often a selection of cold sliced meats, the most important cold cut being the Christmas ham with mustard. Other traditional cuts include homemade sausages, leverpastej and several types of brawn. It is also common to serve the cold meats with sliced cheese, pickled cucumbers and soft and crisp breads.

The third course would be warm dishes. Traditionally, the third course begins with soaking bread in the stock from the Christmas ham. Warm dishes include Swedish meatballs, small fried hot dog sausages, roasted pork ribs, and warm potato casserole, matchstick potatoes layered with cream, onion and sprats called Janssons frestelse (literally "Jansson's Temptation").

Other dishes are pork sausages, smoked pork and potato sausages, cabbage rolls, baked beans, omelette with shrimps or mushrooms covered with bechamel sauce. Side dishes include beetroot salad in mayonnaise and warm stewed red, green or brown cabbage.

Lutfisk, lyed fish made of stockfish (dried ling or cod) served with boiled potato, thick white sauce) and green peas that can be served with the warm dishes or as a separate fourth course. Lutfisk is often served as dinner the second day after the traditional Christmas Yule-table dinner.

Julbord desserts include rice puddin, sprinkled with cinnamon powder. Traditionally, an almond is hidden in the bowl of rice porridge and whoever finds it receives a small prize or is recognized for having good luck.

Julbord is served from early December until just before Christmas at restaurants and until Epiphany in some homes.


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