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SWEDISH VOCABULARY

Table for one: the Swedish restaurant with an extreme approach to social distancing

Worried about the risk of infection while eating out? One restaurant in rural Sweden has taken the guidelines on social distancing to the extreme, serving individual diners in an empty field with the meal arriving by zipline.

Table for one: the Swedish restaurant with an extreme approach to social distancing
The restaurant is located in the forest of Värmland. Photo: Jacque de Villiers/imagebank.sweden.se

Aptly named “Bord for en”, or “Table for One”, the unique al fresco eatery allows patrons to “let their worries go”, long enough to enjoy a meal, the restaurateurs told AFP.

“It's nice to just for once not think about 'Oh, am I going to catch the virus now?' 'Am I being a risk to anyone else?'”, says Linda Karlsson, 36, who hatched the idea with husband Rasmus Persson in Sweden's western Varmland province.

At a table set with a white linen tablecloth, David Nordstrom – who came by bicycle from Karlstad, 50 kilometres (31 miles) away – savours his three-course meal in the wide-open wilderness.

On the menu: Seaweed caviar on Swedish-style hash browns with smetana, yellow carrot ginger puree and sweet corn croquettes, and ginned blueberries with iced buttermilk for dessert. All delivered on a zipline that runs from the couple's kitchen window.

“I hadn't eaten food outside my apartment since early March. I wanted to get out of my voluntary quarantine and leave the city,” Nordstrom, the spot's first customer, told AFP. As he dined, a butterfly circled the table and a hawk soared high above.

FOOD IN SWEDEN:

The idea was born when Linda's parents, who are in a risk group, came for a visit.

“It was a windy day” in March, she recalled. “They came by and we said 'You need to go around the house', and we had put this nice table up with nice tableware, a nice linen cloth and two chairs.”

“We served them through the kitchen window and they really enjoyed it. We were able to spend time with them and it was safe, and we thought that maybe we should make this available for everybody.”

The couple opened their establishment on May 10th, but are fully booked through August 1st when they will close. They offer a set menu, but guests decide how much they want to pay for it.

Rasmus, a former chef turned freelance radio host, and Linda, a former waitress who is now a production company executive, work their normal jobs during the day before opening the restaurant at the end of the afternoon.

In Sweden, which has focused on voluntary measures in the fight against the new coronavirus and has reported more than 5,100 Covid-19 deaths, most restaurants have remained open throughout the pandemic. 

However, they must follow guidelines such as marking distance between groups of diners, offering table service only, and taking other measures to ensure social distancing. Restaurants, cafes and bars that violate these rules risk being shut down.

Swedish vocabulary

quarantine – (en) karantän

hawk – (en) hök

menu – (en) meny

tablecloth – (ett) bordsduk

distance – (ett) avstånd

 

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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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