This year – and I know you know this as well – the holiday season will be nothing like it used to be. A few weeks ago, I thought I’d throw together a Christmas meal of meatballs and lefse and that would be it as far as my efforts would go. But then I changed my mind. While cleaning out some old papers, I found an old cooking magazine from the 1990s with an article focused on smörgåsbord caught my eye.
Of course! Smörgåsbord.
I would cook something every day, or nearly every day, a sort of Advent calendar for the kitchen, counting down to the big day.
Throughout Scandinavia, the custom of serving food as a large buffet is common. Called smörgåsbord in Sweden, the practice is written as koldt bord in Danish and koldtbord in Norwegian. And the truly remarkable thing about smörgåsbord is that cooks make many of the items – in fact most – ahead of time. What better way to spend the days inside, not aimlessly flicking through Netflix or bemoaning the fact that travel is out of the question or sorrowing over the fact that seeing family members means a quick drive-by and a wave?
At Christmas time in Scandinavia, the festival of lights that drives away the darkness of the season’s long polar night brings another special culinary treat: Julbord, or Christmas table, cousin to smörgåsbord.
I decided to do my own version of Julbord.
With seven types of cookie dough in my refrigerator ready to be baked, I am now committed. My plan is to box and share these with family members living close by, as well as friends who are willing to accept them, given the uncertainties about COVID-19 spread and surfaces.
As with many traditional food customs, there’s a certain etiquette, or sequence, to the presentation of a holiday smörgåsbord. As many as five to seven platings take place with a Julbord:
I. Assorted Herring preparations
II. Cold Fish Dishes
III. Hot Fish Dishes
IV. Cold Meats, sliced
V. Warm/Hot Dishes
My julbord will include the following, listed in the order as the ideas came to me:
Meatballs and Lefse
Braised Red Cabbage
Smoked Salmon on Hardtack with Dill and Sour Cream
Cucumbers in Sour Cream with Dill
Herring in Sour Cream
Pork Sausage Patties
Cookies: Sugar, Orange, Cappuccino Flats, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Kringla, Gingersnaps, Shortbread
Julekage (Christmas Cake)
I intend to serve this vast repast over a three-day period – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and St. Stephen’s Day. And my freezer will earn its keep, that’s for sure!
I wish you all a very wonderful holiday season and a healthy/happy/safe New Year!
Until the New Year! May peace be with you all!