Here is our 2009 smorgasbord menu. The menu has expanded over the 40 years that we've done this for our company. Every once in awhile we get courageous and try a new recipe, which, if it turns out well, gets added on for future buffets.
Fish dishes come first. Followed by deviled eggs, hard breads, meats/cheeses, potato salad, cole slaw and jello salad. Hot foods are served seperately and include Swedish meatballs with ham-filled dumplings with cardamon sauce.
Well, it’s almost Christmas 2010. Three towns and four shops later, our family has all the specialty foods for our annual Christmas Eve Swedish smorgasbord.
Like many families here in America, we’re a blend of cultures and backgrounds that make up this amazing melting pot of a nation. My grandfather was a Swedish immigrant whom I never got the chance to meet. His spirit lives on through my Mom who clings to the memories of a simple Swedish smorgasbord celebrated every Christmas Eve during the 1940’s and 50’s to help him feel less home sick for his native land.
I’ve grown up with a more elaborate form of this buffet-style dinner and it has become as much a part of my memories as they are for my Mom. The funny part of this tradition is that my Mom and I hate most of the food we serve as does our full-blooded Swedish neighbor who has partaken in our dinner for over 20 years. We literally laugh as we cringe and spoon out dishes of sil (herring in wine and cream sauces), pickled beets and dilled salmon. We just hate the stuff but our guests (and my Dad who isn’t Swedish) over the past 50 years have, for the most part, truly enjoyed our “old world” dinner. It’s not all bad either. My Mom’s Swedish meatballs are second to none along with her rice pudding with lingonberries and a local bakery’s cardamon coffee cake. Scandinavian hard breads, cheese and sausage along with a few not-so-Swedish add-ons fill the buffet table.
This truly speaks volumes about the power of tradition though. It’s not that we love all the food but the aromas or stink in some cases, are powerfully familiar and comforting to us. While the Swedish population in our area from earlier immigrants has dwindled to a handful, we cling to our tradition and search harder and longer each year to find our beloved foods whether we like them or not.
The familiarity of traditions; Whether religious, of cultural heritage or a one-family custom, whether serious or silly, are priceless emotional and psychological security blankets for us It is people coming together to share them that brings such joy to this otherwise, cold and bleak time of year. Somehow, there’s nothing like a warm heart to beat the winter blues.
Do you have fun traditions in your family at Christmas time? I would love to hear about them!
It's so hard to find Swedish cheeses here that we compromise by adding cheeses from elsewhere. We are honest however and put little national flags on all the foods to show which country they come from!