The delicacies and disasters of Swedish food

When one thinks of countries with strong food culture, Sweden is rarely the first one that comes to mind, or even the fifth. Yet, food is something important to us, as becomes evident during holidays when all we do is eat. But are all things we eat really that good? Absolutely not. Without further ado, let me introduce you to the highs and lows of Swedish cuisine: 

Fermented herring

We’re off to a strong start at the very bottom of my list. “Strong” is an awfully mild way of describing the extreme smell that accompanies this rotten (yes, you read that right) delicacy. Few people actually eat it, but it is nonetheless considered a traditional Swedish food. 

Pickled herring

Thought we were done with the fish? Think again. Pickled herring is considered better than its fermented cousin (maybe because this dish isn’t actually rotten) and is frequently found among traditional Swedish foods. Still, it’s slimy and quite frankly disgusting, according to yours truly. 

Salty liquorice

Thought liquorice couldn’t get any worse than it already is? Wrong. Throw some salt on and you’ve managed to make matters even worse. 

Alright, let’s move away from the not-so-pleasant foods into more mouth-watering areas. 


If you’ve ever been to IKEA, you know that Swedish meatballs are a thing. We love them so much that they too go on the list of foods consumed during every major holiday, and deservedly so, in contrast to a certain pickled fish. 

Cinnamon buns

With pearl sugar, not some weird icing. We adore cinnamon buns so much that we have a full day dedicated to the celebration of said pastry (National Cinnamon Bun Day is on 4 October, no joke). 


Tacos might not be a Swedish invention, but since we first encountered the glorious dish we have adopted it and made it our own. Try to find a stereotypical Swedish family that does not start their weekends with tacos, I dare you. We love tacos. 

So, there you have it! The very best and worst that Swedish food has to offer. If you ever were to pay a visit up north, steer clear of the first three objects on this list, and indulge yourself in the three last ones until you’re stuffed enough to resemble the Swede’s favourite spherical object, the meatball.

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Linnea Kalnins

March 2021
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