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Goose blood? Five Scanian specialities you may or may not want to try

With its warm climate and fertile land, the southern county of Skåne has some of the best ingredients in Sweden. Here are five of the most famous Scanian delicacies.

Goose blood? Five Scanian specialities you may or may not want to try
A plate of nutritious goose blood soup. Enjoy! Photo: Tanzania/Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps the best places to sample Skåne's delicacies are in the traditional gästgiveri or gästis found in the country towns of Sweden's most southerly county. You will need a healthy appetite!

Äggakaka

This artery-stopping, blubbery pancake, fried in pig fat and butter, and served with slices of fried smoked pork, is something you should only really eat if you're going to spend the rest of the day harvesting the fields. And indeed, it was originally given to labourers to keep them going during the autumn harvest.
 
With five eggs to 400ml of milk, and just 100g of flour, it's almost an omelette. It is traditionally served with smoked pork or bacon, chopped white cabbage, and jam made from lingonberries. Some of Skåne's gästis restaurants celebrate harvest-time with all-you-can-eat äggakaka. Be very careful.
 
If you want to try making it yourself, here's our favourite recipe.


Äggakaka is somewhere between a pancake and an omelette. Photo: Sinikka Halme/Wikipedia Commons

The Eel dinner or 'Ålagille'
 
Ålahue, or 'eel-head', is perhaps the best of Skåne's rich stock of insults, and it reflects the eel fisheries which used to abound on the east coast around the town of Åhus, and in the county's inland waters.
 
 
The abundant fish used to be the centre of traditional eel-eating parties or ålagille, where people in Skåne would gather to scoff as many of the slimy, snake-like fish as they could. A traditional eel dinner features the fish cooked in just about every way you can imagine: fried, boiled in soup, hot smoked, salted, and more. 
 
A dramatic decline in eel stocks in 2007 led to a ban on fishing eel in Sweden, but the regulation allowed fishermen “for whom eel is an important part of their economy” to apply for a permit, meaning eel fishing still continues.
 
You can still see smoked eel advertised at smokeries around the county's lakes and coast and Åhus will still hold its traditional eel festival this year.
 
An ålagille feast being prepared in Åhus. Photo: Ålacompaniet
 
St Martin's Day Goose
 
In the weeks around November 10th, Skåne, like France and other countries, celebrates the festival of St Martin with lavish goose dinners which use everything from the goose except the beak.
 
Perhaps the most famous St Martin dish is the sweet and sour svartsoppa, or 'black soup', made from the blood and stock of the goose, seasoned with mashed fruit, spices and brandy. Aficionados buy frozen goose blood in plastic bags to make it at home. The soup is traditionally served with offal such as the liver, the heart, the neck, and also with the wings.
 
 
A bowl of svartsoppa served at a St Martin's Day dinner. Photo: Andreas Nilsson/Flickr
 
Spettekaka
 
Spettekaka, which literally means 'cake on a spit', is a sweet, meringue-like cake, made and sold all over Skåne.
 
It is made by dripping a batter made of eggs, potato flour and sugar onto a skewer which is then rotated over a heat source, traditionally an open fire. The resulting confection looks spectacular but is extremely fragile and needs to be carefully cut with a hacksaw to prevent it shattering. 
 
For big festive occasions, you might see a spettekaka a metre or more in height. The record, baked in Sjöbo in 1985 was 3.6 metres high. Versions of spit cakes can be found across Europe, with varieties in Poland, Austria, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. 
 
It is very dry, so is best washed down with copious cups of powerful coffee, ice cream or port wine.

 
A spettekaka cake. Photo: Charles J Sharp/Wikimedia Commons
 
Brännesnuda
 
This hearty winter soup is surprisingly healthy, with hefty quantities of leek, carrots, parsnips and cabbage far outweighing the ham hock that gives it its flavour. It is served with grainy Scanian mustard, grated horseradish and chopped parsley.
 
It can really demonstrate the quality of vegetables grown in Skåne and is probably best consumed at the home of a friendly Skåning.
 
READ MORE ABOUT LIFE IN SKÅNE:

Member comments

  1. Äggakaka is absolutely wonderful! The key is finely chopped apples; ideally a bright or sour variety, combined with the cabbage. It balances the heavy, velvety äggakaka, and smoky grease flavours (we use bacon).

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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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