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For many of us in the UK, our knowledge of Swedish cuisine begins and ends at Ikea’s food market. But if you’ve ever lingered there long enough to wonder why there are so many varieties of knäckebröd, marvelled at the proliferation of colourful cakes, or thrown a bag of dried elk snacks on top of your bargain bookshelves, then you’ll know there’s a lot more to Swedish food than those famous meatballs.
Swedish cuisine is based on home cooking
Sweden’s national dishes are based around husmanskost, or home cooking, and include cheese pies, reindeer with lingonberry jam, pea soup, plenty of potatoes and (of course) pickled herring. Some of the country’s longest-standing eateries have spent decades taking Swedish favourites and honing them to delicious perfection. Meanwhile, some of the country’s top food markets are home to emerging chefs using fresh local ingredients to create innovative dishes that turn tradition on its head.
Like a chef who must learn the essentials of cooking before cracking out the liquid nitrogen and spherification kit, your foodie trip to Sweden should start with some of the traditional restaurants cooking up dishes you simply mustn’t return home without trying.
Dinner at Pelikan, Stockholm, is an unmissable experience, especially for first-time visitors. Having occupied the same spot on Blekingegatan since 1904, its waistcoated waiters and wood-panelled walls haven’t changed much in the last 100 years or so.