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Scandinavia ~ Feasting in the Far North

The countries of Scandinavia are our next stop on our food history world tour. I have friends in both Sweden and Norway so someday soon maybe I will make it a point to trek over there and visit 🙂 For now, I’m going to explore the lands and the food here on the blog.

The countries of Scandinavia consist of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. We are going to enjoy a look at the first four countries and their food history this month. The word “Scandinavia” actually refers to the three kingdoms of Norway, Sweden and Finland proper. All five of these Nordic countries share a lot in common including their food and culinary traditions. But even though these countries share very similar geography and foods, they are each also distinct in their culinary practices!

People have been living in these northern lands since Roman times. The Scandinavian people are natural seafarers since their countries are surrounded by water on many sides and there are many rivers and waterfalls inland too. Probably the most well known time period of Scandinavian history is the Viking era. These hardy people traveled far and wide exploring the seas and the lands they encountered.

Because of the cold northern temperatures, some of the farthest north lands experience the midnight sun, farming seasons are short. Quick growing grains like oats, barley and rye are still very much a part of the northern diet. Also, root vegetables like potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, carrots and beets that grow underground and can be stored for a long time are favored. Local berries that enjoy the colder climate are harvested and enjoyed as well.

Herd animals and their meat are an important part of the Scandinavian diet. Reindeer, beef, mutton and pork are popular. Also, seafood is still very popular with all kinds of fish dishes being made and enjoyed. Since dairy cattle are a big part of the Scandinavian food culture, naturally many dairy products such as yogurt, cheese and butter are enjoyed as well.

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