Nordic food-traditions stayed under the radar for a long time but it’s finally getting the recognition it deserves. With a sudden surge in world-class local cuisine being cooked up in capitals like Copenhagen and Oslo, Nordic food is getting attention way past its borders. What makes Nordic food so special?
Scandinavia has always been ideal for growing hardy, cold-climate produce ranging from fruit and berries to vegetables and tubers thanks to the cool, clean climate. Pasture-fed cattle, sheep and goats provide an abundance of high-quality meat and dairy thanks to not only lush grazing lands but strict animal welfare regulations. Its rugged coastlines have provided fresh seafood for thousands of years; introducing the world to traditional recipes such as gravlax, pickled herring and bacalao (dried cod).
Light, short summers and long, dark winters laid the foundation for what’s now considered the trendy simplicity of Scandinavian cuisine. For generations an ample harvest had to last through the scarce and cold winter that followed. Pickling, preserving, smoking, freezing, fermenting and drying were traditional recipes and methods used to bring seasonal produce into winter and beyond.
If you are visiting Scandinavia in autumn you’ll discover and enjoy Nordic cuisine at its best. With the berry and fruit season slowly coming to an end, you’ll discover a wide range of seasonal vegetables on offer. Some are trusty classics like beet, leeks and potatoes, while others less familiar outside Scandinavia: kohlrabi, chanterelles and red archipelago-onion. Where’s the best place to embrace the variety and flavours of autumn? Shop the local farmers and food-markets.
The slow-food movement was a global phenomenon, and in many ways it changed Scandinavians perception to the food they grew up with. With a newfound appreciation of familiar ingredients combined with traditional preparation and preserving methods, they have embraced markets with a broader focus on local, seasonal and organic produce.
While the culture of slow-food is relatively new, it’s about “re-inventing the wheel” and returning to a calmer pace of life. It’s about sampling, touching and smelling local produce while talking to the stall-holders who passionately grew and prepared the products on offer, rather than rushing through supermarket-aisles on the way home from work. The locals have embraced the weekend markets and take pride in the cultural heritage and traditions that the food represents.
What can you expect to find at a Nordic market in autumn? Apart from fresh produce, you’ll find plenty of preserves made from the fading summer-season’s berries and fruits like cordials, jams, jellies, chutneys and sauces. You’ll also find honey, cheeses, juices, ice-creams, fresh dairy, bread, eggs, baked goods, smoked and cured fish and meats, micro brewed speciality beers, dressings, herbs and dips with a Nordic twist. In other words; everything you’d need for a perfect day out and then some. Make sure you go market shopping while hungry – god apetitt!
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