Taste of Sweden, Memories of Home

I went to Ikea last weekend with Sabs, my partner in crime and all things random. After we shopped to our heart’s content, we decided to stop by their food section on our way out. (Oh who am I kidding – we’ve been talking about Swedish meatballs while still on the road.) I ended up buying a bar of milk chocolate with hazelnuts (not really a Swedish specialty, but I couldn’t resist) and saw a lot of things that brought back very fond memories of my childhood.

I’m not Swedish (um hello, have you seen me?) and I’ve never been to Sweden, but every time I see Swedish food, I think of my family. We used to eat a lot of smoked salmon, Swedish chocolate, and Swedish caviar. Oh yes.

Whenever my parents travel to a different country, they always make it a point to buy a little something for me and my sisters. When I was younger, my favorite gifts were always from the Scandinavian countries. My dad used to go to Sweden and Denmark a lot for business, and I remember excitedly waiting for him to come home, because I know he always has some goodies for me, particularly Daim candy (toffee squares covered in milk chocolate). I would savor those Daim chocolates for days, and I always felt extra special whenever I ate them, knowing my dad bought them all  the way from Sweden, just for me.


little candies of love

And then there’s smoked salmon, another Swedish delicacy. My mom, purveyor of great taste, introduced me and my sisters to a lot of fantastic international foods, so we grew up eating very, very well.  I remember my first taste of smoked salmon: my mom served it with a dollop of sour cream and a squeeze of lemon, with buttered toast. I loved it, but not as much as my youngest sister Patty did. She loves smoked salmon until now, and during her last visit to Boston, she was ecstatic about the simple dinner I prepared for her: scrambled eggs, toast, smoked salmon and cream cheese. We oohed and ahhed the whole time we were eating.

My mom also introduced us to all sorts of caviar, including Kalles Creamed Smoked Roe. This is cheap caviar (not beluga, not even in a jar, but in a tube) and if you look at the ingredient list it has some additives/fillers. But when I was younger, I didn’t give a care about that. All I cared about was how delicious it tasted, how exotic it was – this creamed roe was so different from our daily fare in the Philippines – and how I felt so sophisticated eating it. I loved that salty, creamy spread. We would eat it with some soft-boiled eggs and toast or crackers. My other sister Monica wouldn’t eat any of the caviar, but she would always eat a couple of soft-boiled eggs. We always have good times at the dining table.

egg with caviar

egg with creamed smoked roe

I bought a tube of that Swedish caviar in Ikea last week and today I ate it with a hard-boiled egg. Just a snack, plain and simple. The caviar was as salty and creamy as I remember.  And it reminded me of home, sweet home.

Did you eat any exotic foods growing up? What was your favorite?


4 Responses to “Taste of Sweden, Memories of Home”

  1. #
    Michelle posted September 11, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Don’t you love how food can bring back so many memories? I grew up eating lots of different Korean cuisine. The weirder it was, I probably ate it. To day this, I credit my parents with my adventurous food spirit!

  2. #
    MelissaNibbles posted September 11, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Are you sure you aren’t Swedish?

    I didn’t know IKEA had a food section. I need to go there more often.

  3. #
    Meghan@travelwinedine posted September 11, 2010 at 10:17 am

    We didn’t eat anything too exotic growing up except maybe some of the Czech specialties of my great grandparents. But my husband and I always try to incorporate our travels into our lives back home through food and wine.

  4. #
    surviving suburbia posted September 11, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    i’m a big fan of ikea! i like to look at their stuff, especially the kids section for our son’s room. we go elsewhere for adult furniture though. their food section is the highlight of our trip! i love swedish meatballs with cream sauce, ikea milk chocolate, and the one that’s kind of like kitkat but so much better. we also always take home some gravad lax with the dill sauce. yum!

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