Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eating out when traveling with kids in Sweden

Every country has its own quirks when it comes to food. This goes for everything from spices (hot sauce or black pepper?), to cooking methods (deep fried or baked under a pie crust?), to the general level of saltiness (no-salt to extra-salt), to what ingredients are used, and how things are served on your plate. All that is part of the adventure when you travel.

Kids don't always appreciate this part of the adventure, as I've written about elsewhere, and can have a hard time adjusting to new flavors and dishes (but then, many adults experience the same difficulty!).

When visiting Sweden there are a few general things to be aware of when it comes to food and restaurants.
  • Cafeteria-style restaurants are very common in Sweden. Lots of eating establishments do require you to grab a tray, order at the counter, pick up your drinks and cutlery there, and pay before sitting down with your food. Sometimes the food will be brought to your table when it's ready, but more commonly, you'll have to pick it up yourself.
  • "Dagens rätt", meaning The Daily Special, is a very common feature at Swedish restaurants, and it's usually a pretty good deal. Usually this meal includes your drink, a side salad from the salad bar, bread and butter, and coffee after your meal.
  • For a special treat do try out the coffee shops in Sweden, often called "café" or even better "konditori". These places, especially a konditori, specialize in cookies and pastries, and oh boy, there are a lot of different kinds of pastries! You can usually pick what you like at the counter: just point and drool. Coffee shops also commonly serve lighter meals, like sandwiches and savory pies.
Most restaurants in Sweden do have some kind of kids' menu available. But what do you order?
  • Burgers and fries is a standby in many Swedish restaurants these days. Lots of kids will go for that, regardless of the country they're in. But again: there's a quirk! Many Swedes, especially in the north of Sweden, use cutlery when eating their burgers. Even the mighty McDonalds had to cave in to this when they opened in northern Sweden, offering plastic knives and forks with their meals. Maybe try to eat your burger like a local? A meal with burgers and fries is sometimes called "skrov" or "skrovmål" on the menu, with the kids' version being called "miniskrov".
  • Pizza is very popular in Sweden, (here I go with the pizza again...), and even the smallest town often has a pizzeria. The pizza  is often thin-crust, but you can sometimes get a deep-dish pizza or what people in North America would call a "regular crust" if you ask for it. Or just go with the flow and order a thin-crust!
  • Hot dogs are also popular in Sweden. As a kids' meal at many restaurants, they are often served grilled (and called "grillkorv"), without a bun, but with french fries ("pommes frites"). This meal is usually a hit with my kids. At fast-food establishments, hot dogs are often served boiled, either on a bun, or on a bed of mashed potatoes.
  • Pancakes, "pannkakor" (or sometimes "plättar") are a common dish on kids' menus in Sweden, especially for lunch. They're thin, rather large pancakes, usually served with jam and whipped cream, sometimes also a side of vanilla ice cream. This is a go-to dish for me with my kids: they may turn their noses up at lots of things some days, but they rarely pass up pancakes with jam.
  • Meatballs. Yes, the signature Swedish dish! It's a common sight on kids' menus, and the meatballs are often served either with mashed potatoes, or macaroni. Gravy and lingonberry jam are the usual side dishes. If you find a place that makes real, homemade meatballs you're in luck: they can be delicious when done right. However, many places serve up mass-produced, cooked-from-frozen varities that are nowhere near as tasty.
  • Spaghetti and meat-sauce. This is so popular in Sweden it's almost like a national dish, in spite of its Italian origins. Just watch those Swedish kids squeeze liberal amounts of ketchup all over it! Another go-to dish for my kids, especially my son, who is a genuine pasta-lover.
 And for dessert or just a treat?

  • Ice cream is extremely popular in Sweden, and almost every little corner shop and gas station will have a freezer stocked with a wide range of varieties. Cones, sticks, sandwiches, popsicles... all of them in almost every flavor and flavor combination you can imagine (and not imagine: salted licorice ice cream for example). You can read more about Swedish ice cream here.
  • "Fika" is a very special kind of light Swedish meal. This word can't be properly translated into English, but means something like a snack, or coffee break. A "fika" usually consists of cookies, cinnamon buns, pastries, or some kind of cake served with coffee or tea for adults, and juice or pop for the kids. Swedes usually have a "fika" in the morning before lunch, or in the afternoon between lunch and dinner. Or at any other time of the day if they're having company over. It should usually include a selection of baked goods, and is usually very much appreciated by children.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...