Sweden might be one of the world’s most modern nations, but Swedes love their traditions and food tends to be the most important element of Swedish festivities. Skåne shares the same traditions but has a few additional ones. There has been a boom in small-scale artisan food production, and Skåne has its own food traditions such as spättekaka (cake on a spit), eel feasts, roast goose feasts, egg cake and a myriad of marinated herring mixed with new tastes and influences. Read further if you are curious about when, where and how to experience these extraordinary dishes.
1. Spettkaka (Pyramid cake)
Ribbons of batter piped onto a conical form make-up the unique confection sometimes called a pyramid cake in English, or Spettkaka in Swedish.
The ingredients for the cake are the reason it is tied to Skåne, the main farming portion of Sweden. They include eggs, sugar, and flour. Traditionally it was cooked on a rotating spit above an open fire and ordered based on dozens of eggs rather than servings. People could even bring their own eggs to a spettkaka baker to have a cake made.
Today they are baked in special rotating ovens and sold by the number of servings. Heights typically range from 6-25 inches tall (16-64 cm).
Spettkaka can be eaten on its own or served with ice cream, whipped cream, or a variety of sauces such as chocolate or caramel. Fresh fruit or berries are a nice accompaniment as are a glass of champagne or port. The peak occasions for spettkaka are Christmas and midsummer but they are also popular for weddings, banquets, and special occasions year-round. Eat spettkaka at one of the following cafés in Skåne:
- Fricks Spettkaksbageri & Trädgårdscafé
- Johanna Jeppssons Spettkaksbageri
- Kristianstads Spettkakan
- Åstorps Spettkaksbageri
2. Goose Dinner
St Martin of Tours who was the Bishop of Tours originally took goose as his personal symbol. According to legend, Martin was reluctant to become bishop, which is why he hid in a stable filled with geese. He celebrates his name on the 10th of November, when the geese are ready for killing. St Martin’s Day was an important medieval autumn feast, and the custom of eating goose spread to Sweden from France. Today, people mostly eat goose in the southernmost Swedish province of Skåne.
A traditional goose dinner with all the trimmings is a festive occasion. The dinner takes time to cook and is very filling, using all parts of the goose. Before the golden-brown goose arrives at the table, the dinner begins with a bowl of sweet and sour black soup, made from goose blood and goose broth, and richly seasoned with fruit pureés, spirits and spices such as clove, ginger and a generous splash of brandy. The soup is thick and reddish black in colour. The giblets are served with the soup. These are the neck, the liver, the heart and the craw, and fried wings.
The goose is then served as the main course with boiled apple slices, prunes, boiled potatoes, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage and a rich sauce.
Apple pie with vanilla sauce is the traditional dessert, both for an eel feast and with a St Martin’s Day goose dinner. All traditional restaurants and inns serve goose, with all the accompaniments, and eel.
Hundreds of places serve goose a couple of weeks before and after St. Martin’s Day. We’ve picked out a few classic ones that always exceed the expectations:
- Årstiderna i Kockska Huset
- Häckeberga Slott
- Grand Hotel i Lund
- Ringsjö Krog & Wärdshus
- Bäckaskog Slott
- Brösarps Gästgifveri
- Skanör Gästgifvaregård
- Erikstorps Kungsgård
- Margretetorps Gästgifvaregård
3. Egg cake
Äggakaga is a traditional dish from Skåne made using a pancake-like batter, but adding more eggs and flour for a creamier consistency.
Egg cake can (or should) be served with fried pork or bacon, lingonberry jam and chopped white cabbage and it is best served hot straight from the pan. The dish originates from the time when farm labourers worked long days harvesting the fields in the autumn. Since the dish could also be eaten cold it was easily wrapped up and eaten in a field for lunch.
These are the inns in Skåne that serve egg-cake on their menu:
- Brösarps Gästgifvaregård (à la carte)
- Flädergården (Sunday brunch)
- Erikstorps kungsgård (Sunday brunch)
- Tunneberga gästgifvaregård (à la carte)
- Staffanstorps Gästis (à la carte)
- Flickorna Lundgren (à la carte)
4. Eel parties in Skåne
Many eel fishers organize eel parties between mid-August and the end of November. An eel party is a Skåne tradition that involves eating various eel dishes. An authentic eel party includes salted eel, preserved eel, fried eel, smoked eel, straw-smoked eel, eel soup and eel à la daube, all washed down with home-made spiced schnapps.
Eel parties have been designated a World Class Event, and are visited by around fifty different nationalities every year. The ideal accompaniments are mashed egg, coarse rye bread, pressed potatoes, lots of schnapps, some tall tales and plenty of uproarious laughter. To finish off the evening there must be one person who is proclaimed the "Eel King". A golden crown will adorn the head of the person able to lift the most live eels at one time from a barrel.
Demand for eel is high throughout the world, and the number of eels are declining. In order to preserve the eel as a species, the Swedish government has decided on a total eel fishing ban. The traditional eel parties in Skåne don’t take place at the moment.