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MAKING IT IN SWEDEN

SAUSAGES

Gareth Jones: cooking up success in Sweden

Welshman Gareth Jones, chef and co-owner of Stockholm-based British butchers and sausage-makers Taylors & Jones, speaks with The Local about language, "country-house culture" and what it takes to do your own thing in Sweden.

Gareth Jones: cooking up success in Sweden

Gareth Jones came to Sweden in 1996 and swiftly started working as a chef at a British pub in Stockholm. After a few years of running a couple of restaurants in the capital, he teamed up with Irish butcher David Taylor in 2007 to create Stockholm’s first British butchers, Taylors & Jones.

In the shop, which is located on Kungsholmen in Stockholm, Jones, Taylor and third partner Kerim Akkoc offer customers over 40 different types of sausages to choose from, as well as meats, cheeses and other specialties from the British isles.

The company also delivers to shops and restaurants across the country, as well as organize sausage-making courses and catering services.

The Local: So, why did you first come to Sweden?

Gareth Jones: It was the ususal reason, really. I met a Swedish girl while I was working in Greece and then followed her back to Sweden.

TL: What did you do before coming here?

GJ: I had actually been travelling around in Asia, Australia and Europe working in kitchens for something like eight years prior to coming to Sweden.

TL: What did you do when you first came to Sweden?

GJ: I sort of walked into my first job actually, as a chef at the Beefeater pub in Stockholm.

TL: How long did it take you to learn Swedish? Is that important for an expat?

GJ: It took me about two years to become fluent in Swedish. I think that it is crucial to learn the language. Foreigners sometimes get stuck moving in the same expat circles and just end up moaning about the country they’re in. If you want to be able to laugh with people you must share their language.

TL: How did you begin doing what you are doing now?

GJ: The idea behind an establishment like Taylors & Jones is one that I had had almost from day one in Sweden. But it wasn’t until I had sold off two restaurants that I was part-owner of that I was finally in a position to make it a reality. And David Taylor, the other co-owner, had approached a friend of mine with a similar idea – and he was referred to me.

TL: What was the easiest/most difficult thing with trying to ‘make it’ in Sweden?

GJ: I really think that Swedes are open to new ideas and that makes it easier to start something new and different here. When we first opened we had a lot of British and expat customers, but to be honest, we wouldn’t have been able to manage just on that. It was when the Swedes found us that things really started moving.

The most difficult thing I guess is all the rules and regulations that you have to get through to start your own company here.

TL: What are the keys for an expat to ‘make it’ in Sweden?

GJ: The key to making it in Sweden is the same as anywhere else, really – hard work. Also, as a foreigner setting up a business one must work harder in the beginning. Later it may even work in your favour that you hail from somewhere else, but in the beginning you must really prove yourself.

TL: What would be your advice to someone thinking about trying to start a company or do their own thing in Sweden?

GJ: I think it is important to try to learn the language as quick as possible. Also, when starting your first company in Sweden, it isn’t a bad idea to team up with a Swede who already knows how things work here. That certainly helps when it comes to getting advice on all the regulations.

TL: What do you like most about Sweden? What do you hate most?

GJ: I love the quality of life that we enjoy here. We all moan about everyday things, but then we can go away and enjoy a four-week holiday. I also love the sort of “country-house culture” that exists here, where a lot of people have their own place in the country to retreat to on the weekends and during their time off.

What I do find difficult, though, is how people don’t talk to each other. I have to go home to Wales to get my dose of everyday friendliness. And when I return it’s difficult to get back in the swing of ignoring people again, as is done here a lot of the time.

TL: Here at The Local, we have an on-going feud regarding the word elk versus the word moose. How would you best translate the Swedish word älg to English? Say, in the sentence: “there is definitely no älg in this sausage”?

GJ: Well, I think the correct way of saying it would be elk, though I know the American usage of the word moose is taking over. I would definitely say elk.

Rebecca Martin

Follow Rebecca on Twitter here

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DISCOVER SWEDEN

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager’s dream

Although parts of Sweden are still under snow at this time of year, spring is in full swing here in Skåne in the south of Sweden. Here are The Local's top tips for what you can forage in the great outdoors this season.

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager's dream

You might already have your go-to svampställe where you forage mushrooms in autumn, but mushrooms aren’t the only thing you can forage in Sweden. The season for fruits and berries hasn’t quite started yet, but there is a wide range of produce on offer if you know where to look.

Obviously, all of these plants grow in the wild, meaning it’s a good idea to wash them thoroughly before you use them. You should also be respectful of nature and of other would-be foragers when you’re out foraging, and make sure not to take more than your fair share to ensure there’s enough for everyone.

As with all foraged foods, only pick and eat what you know. The plants in this guide do not look similar to any poisonous plants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry – or ask someone who knows for help.

Additionally, avoid foraging plants close to the roadside or in other areas which could be more polluted. If you haven’t tried any of these plants before, start in small doses to make sure you don’t react negatively to them.

Wild garlic plants in a park in Alnarpsparken, Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Wild garlic

These pungent green leaves are just starting to pop up in shady wooded areas, and may even hang around as late as June in some areas. Wild garlic or ramsons, known as ramslök in Swedish, smell strongly of garlic and have wide, flat, pointed leaves which grow low to the ground.

The whole plant is edible: leaves, flowers and the bulbs underground – although try not to harvest too many bulbs or the plants won’t grow back next year.

The leaves have a very strong garlic taste which gets weaker once cooked. Common recipes for wild garlic include pesto and herb butter or herbed oil, but it can generally be used instead of traditional garlic in most recipes. If you’re cooking wild garlic, add it to the dish at the last possible moment so it still retains some flavour.

You can also preserve the flower buds and seed capsules as wild garlic capers, known as ramslökskapris in Swedish, which will then keep for up to a year.

Stinging nettles. Wear gloves when harvesting these to protect yourself from their needles. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Stinging nettles

Brännässlor or stinging nettles need to be cooked before eating to remove their sting, although blanching them for a couple of seconds in boiling water should do the trick. For the same reason, make sure you wear good gardening gloves when you pick them so you don’t get stung.

Nettles often grow in the same conditions as wild garlic – shady woodlands, and are often regarded as weeds.

The younger leaves are best – they can get stringy and tough as they get older.

A very traditional use for brännässlor in Sweden is nässelsoppa, a bright green soup made from blanched nettles, often topped with a boiled or poached egg.

Some Swedes may also remember eating stuvade nässlor with salmon around Easter, where the nettles are cooked with cream, butter and milk. If you can’t get hold of nettles, they can be replaced with spinach for a similar result.

You can also dry nettles and use them to make tea, or use blanched nettles to make nettle pesto.

Kirskål or ground elder, another popular foraged green for this time of year.
Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Ground elder

Ground elder is known as kirskål in Swedish, and can be used much in the same way as spinach. It also grows in shady areas, and is an invasive species, meaning that you shouldn’t be too worried about foraging too much of it (you might even find some in your garden!).

It is quite common in parks and old gardens, but can also be found in wooded areas. The stems and older leaves can be bitter, so try to focus on foraging the tender, younger leaves.

Ground elder has been cultivated in Sweden since at least 500BC, and has been historically used as a medicinal herb and as a vegetable. This is one of the reasons it can be found in old gardens near Swedish castles or country homes, as it was grown for use in cooking.

Kirskål is available from March to September, although it is best eaten earlier in the season.

As mentioned, ground elder can replace spinach in many recipes – you could also use it for pesto, in a quiche or salad, or to make ground elder soup.

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