Monday, December 20, 2010

Swedish Christmas food in Lebanon

Courtney and I have decided that this year’s Christmas dinner will be Swedish. We might still have a turkey dinner at some point, but on Christmas we will eat all the nice things – or at least as many as we can find or make – that the Swedish Christmas smorgasbord or "julbord" entails. To prepare for this, we have among other things put a bunch of little herrings in salt in a plastic bag in the kitchen. You are supposed to put them in only partially cleaned, and the boys had a lot of fun ripping the heads of little fish and pulling the guts out. Boy, did our kitchen smell like fish for a couple of days! The fish are to remain there for a week before we can clean them, let them sit in water for a day, and finally put them in a jar with sugar, spices and onion in vinegar to pickle. I can’t wait to taste it – our own pickled herring! We have also put spices – cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves - in a bottle of vodka, which will serve as our Christmas snaps. We have pickled beets so that we can make the beet salad. Later this week we will put raw salmon in a plastic bag in the fridge with salt, sugar, and dill to make gravlax. We will make Swedish meatballs, bake bread and paté. And on Christmas day we will make Jansson’s frestelse (scalloped potatoes with anchovy), beans, ribs, eggs with shrimp and caviar, and a few other things we love, for example glogg and gingerbread snaps. What we haven’t found to prepare is a ham, but will settle for the kind you can buy in the deli at TSC. Although it will not be our own baked ham, it will have to do, and with the Swedish mustard I have carried here from across the world, saved and cherished, it will still be good. God Jul!

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