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Joyful Traditions


Christmas eve is the main event at our house. Like my mother, I prepare a Smorgasbord which is traditional in the Scandinavian countries. The table is laid-out with cold meat (roast beef, turkey, ham) and fish (sill - herring with sour cream and onions, sardines in tomato sauce, salmon, shrimp and lutfisk - similar to codfish); breads: white, light rye, dark rye, pumpernickel and knackebrod - a thin, hard, dark crackerbread; salads: including pickled cucumbers, potato salad, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli; pickles both sweet and sour; a variety of cheeses; deviled eggs; and hot dishes - usually boiled new potatoes with dill and Swedish meat balls, or stews. Open sandwiches made with one slice of bread spread with mayonnaise or sweet butter, anchovy butter, herb butter, parsley butter on white bread for light flavors - fish, chicken and mild cheese; light rye for strong fish or red meat; dark rye or pumpernickel for spicy mixtures, and the knackebrod for cheese, herring or sardines. The secret to the Smorgasbord is the garnishes - plenty of dill, parsley, radishes, and berries.

There are unwritten rules for eating Smorgasbord. Begin with the herring, shrimps, sardines, the knackebrod and pickles. After this, start with a clean plate and head for the cold fish (sometimes salmon or trout in aspic), bread, and the cucumber salad. Then, with another clean plate you load up on the cold meats (and bread) and eggs, eaten with a green salad and/or potato salad. Following the cold foods we find another clean plate and head for the warm dishes - the meatballs and dill potatoes (and bread). Touch it off afterwards with the cheeses. Lastly, there is dessert, with the Pepparkakshus (Gingerbread House) for the children, pastries or fruit salad for the adults and strong, hot coffee. This takes many days in advance to prepare and it also takes a long time to eat.

Comments to Joan A. Andersen:
Content copyright 1996 Joan A. Andersen;
Revised: 21 November 1998