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Swedish food aims to knock France off its perch
A.M.Kuchling, Simon Summers

Swedish food aims to knock France off its perch

Published: 22 Jul 2008 13:02 GMT+02:00
Updated: 22 Jul 2008 13:02 GMT+02:00

"We are going to put Sweden on the world map as a country of good food," said agriculture minister Eskil Erlandsson.

Erlandsson has concluded that Sweden's reputation for "food safety, wholesomeness, freshness, simplicity, ethics and culture, animal welfare and respect for the environment," leaves the country in a good position to challenge the French on their home turf of gastronomy.

Erlandsson is not afraid of incurring the wrath of French president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

"That is something I am happy to do! We usually have differences of opinion with the French in these issues," he said when laying out the new vision at a press conference on Tuesday.

Erlandsson has based his vision on the findings of an opinion survey that has confirmed that Swedes do indeed like good food. 76 percent of respondents said that "it would be nice to experience good food while on holiday."

Half of Swedes plan their holidays around a concerted effort to experience culinary delights. Recent changes to the tax system has left Swedes with more take home pay and therefore able to enjoy that little extra when treating themselves to an evening out at a restaurant.

Now the government aims to go one step further and promote the country's cuisine.

The specifics of the agriculture minister's new grand vision were conspicuous in their absence at the press conference on Tuesday. Erlandsson instead underlined the raft of initiatives that the government already supports. These include the "New Nordic Food" and "Baltic Sea Culinary Route."

The government plans in the autumn to gather "interesting people and organisations" to discuss and brain storm for ideas as to how the new vision can be realized.

The agriculture minister himself prefers homely food and game washed down with a cool glass of milk. Some of the homely Swedish dishes that the minister has available to him could include meatballs and potatoes, pickled herring and pancakes.

The Swedish tourism industry is going from strength to strength and an emphasis on the country's gastronomic delights would surely help to boost this positive trend. Rural areas would stand to benefit from an influx of new jobs in the 236 billion kronor ($39.97 billion) industry.

Some of the current highlights of the Swedish culinary calender could include the three-day Skellefteå food festival starting on August 21st, the "Wilderness Chef of the Year" competition on September 6th in Grythyttan, the Kristinehamn honey festival on September 20th or the Swedish championships in food craftsmanship in Ås, Jämtland on October 15th.

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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