The IKEA food market is the best thing to have happened to Swedes living abroad, providing easy access to goodies from the home country. But it can be a bit forbidding for the natives, loaded as it is with strange foods.
So here’s a brief illustrated primer to some of my favorite things in the IKEA food market that are easy to enjoy for people who didn’t grow up with the more shall we say special (think fish) food stuffs of Sweden.
Dear Lord, this is good. Like all Swedish pastries, best enjoyed with coffee. Four small princess cakes to give you all the marzipan, jam, cream and sugar goodness you need.
Try them for a birthday celebration. You need to taste this.
“Punschrullar” is the official name, but nobody calls them that. In Sweden they’re referred to as “dammsugare” (vacuum cleaners) because of the shape—like an old-style vacuum cleaner. Marzipan and apricot. Is it good? Unless you hate sweets and marzipan, yes indeedy. The vacuum cleaners are sublime with coffee; Swedish people love coffee, so the vacuum cleaners are a perennial favorite.
This was my candy of choice for the movies through my misspent youth. Chewy candy cars, just like it says on the packaging. Delicious.
This is not the hoity-toity caviar Bond villains enjoy with their champagne. This is a pink paste of smoked cod eggs. Little bit of an acquired taste, but delicious on sandwiches. I eat a caviar sandwich for breakfast every morning.
Also great on boiled eggs.
Elderberry and lingonberry. Oh, my. These are both concentrates, so you pour a little into a glass and then add water to taste.
Elderberry is hard to desribe—a bit dry and tart, almost tea-like in a way. It doesn’t taste like anything else you’ve ever drank. Delicious on hot days.
Lingonberry is also a bit tart. This is a staple in Swedish cafeterias and most Swedish children have drunk gallons of the stuff. They serve the lingonberry drink in the IKEA food court, so you can try it there first. It’s one of those things you don’t really think about while in Sweden, but miss terribly when it’s not available.
During the dark years© before IKEA opened a store in Phoenix, I would make near-yearly runs to the IKEA in Los Angeles—a long day of driving six hours, spending four hours at IKEA, then driving the rented mini-van loaded to the rafters with flat furniture boxes back to Phoenix, the shocks bottoming out at every bump in the road.
The first one of those runs I was so freaking excited about finally drinking some lingonberry juice I could taste it. Went to the dispenser at the food court and they were out of lingonberry.
Crushing disappointment. As I dejectedly went to sit down a Swedish voice behind me at the dispenser yelled “HELVETE!” (dammit! in Swedish) and I knew I had a brother in suffering.
Love that lingonberry.
For further reading, IKEA has posted a nice guide to celebrating Christmas the Swedish way.
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