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3 julbords in 5 days is just way too much. I'm julborded out and it's the FIFTH of December. The Swedes eat basically the same feast for every holiday but they really pile it on for Christmas.

Julbord, for those of you who have never been initiated into this particular Swedish extravaganza, is, literally, "Christmas table." It traditionally consists of a fish course of up to THIRTY different kinds of pickled herring (herring in tomato sauce, herring in mustard sauce, herring in cream sauce, herring in dill, herring in garlic sauce, herring in onion, pickled FRIED herring, herring with you-name-it. Then there are at least 3 kinds of salmon: cold smoked, warm smoked and "gravad" which isn't even pickled, it's cured in salt and sugar. Hard-boiled eggs with a dollop of mayo, a spoonful of caviar and a twist of dill. Smoked eel. Crayfish tails.

Then you move on to the "cold" table which is basically cold cuts of meat: Christmas ham with whole-seed mustard, sliced turkey, smoked reindeer, pastrami, liver paté, marinated roast beef, just for starters.

Finally, the "warm" table which ALWAYS has meatballs and prinskorv: a succulent small sausage; meat-stuffed cabbage rolls, oven-roasted pork ribs, several other kinds of sliced sausages, red beet salad...and if you're lucky (or unlucky, depending upon how you look at it)...lutfisk. Add boiled potatoes and creamy potato and onion dishes (with anchovies) called Janssons Temptation. Brown cabbage and red cabbage round it off. If you're at a non-traditional julbord, like I was at tonight, you may have all this AND MORE.

Then cheeses and fruits to clear the palate.

And finally, after you've made at least 3 trips to the table and been reduced to unbuttoning your pants and leaning further and further back in your chair, there is the dessert table: Swedish gingerbread (to help digestion!), traditional rice pudding with sweet strawberry sauce, apple pie with vanilla sauce, blueberry cobbler, lussekatter: a sweet saffron bun with raisins, Daim cake (mmmm!), almond cups with jam and whipped cream, spettkaka, chocolates and various Christmas candies.

Oh, and don't forget you need to wash all this down with something! Schnaps, aqvavit, wine or Christmas beer, julmust (a kind of rootbeer-like soda), and of course, coffee.

Did you notice what was missing? GREEN THINGS, that's what. It is a veritable plethora of meat and not a green vegetable in sight. The julbord I attended tonight DID have marinated garlic cloves, and sundried tomatoes and big green olives. One dish had ruccola with parmesan and some sort of parma ham...I scooped out a few forkfuls of the greenstuff while the Swedes weren't looking.

Personally, I'd be happy with just the 3 kinds of salmon and the potatisgrätang...oh! and the Daimtårta. My eyes, however, are definitely bigger than my stomach. Stupid eyes.

mood: full
music: the faint strains of stress coming from my rapidly expanding waistline

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With the general grönsaksbrist on the Jul table, I wonder whether Swedes suffer from constipation in the days following Christmas?

hahaha! I think the snaps takes care of that :P

I am so surprised that the Swedes don't have a higher rate of coronary problems on that meat-heavy diet. Ugh. Having said that, though, all that fish sounds scrummy.

Well, keep in mind that it's not everyday fare, by any means :)


I love many many things about Sweden but the holiday fare is not one of them. Erik went to his company's julbord the other day after having been assured that there would be "lots" of vegetarian dishes. There were boiled potatoes and brussels sprouts.

Still, I do want to have a semi-traditional Swedish Christmas so I'll be making a vegetarian Janssons (with capers instead of anchovies) and the rice pudding.

Thanks for this entry, it describes the julbord perfectly!


Mmmm...Janssons with capers sounds divine! "boiled potatoes and brussels sprouts": the mind reels.

To make a vegetarian Jansson, it seems the key is to find a mix of spices that matches the anchovies. My local newspaper (VLT) printed a such recipe last Saturday, and I see that also have a similar one. Both use nejlika (clove), kryddpeppar (allspice) and kanel (cinnamon), and fill it with mushroom. Other sites suggest capers like Amylou did, or even carrots or corn (!). If the spices are the right ones, maybe one can fill it with almost anything and it will taste the same.. :-)

By the way, doesn't capers and anchovies already have a relationship in such way both are served to a typical Wienerschnitzel?


I, for one, have never had herring, so I think I could try it. It sounds like a really fun tradition! If you go to any others, take pictures, because I'd like to see what it all LOOKS like.


G assures me that his family's julbord has not one single thing on it that I would eat. I wonder if a vegetarian julbord exists anywhere. It would seem kind of contradcitory, it being heavy on the traditional Swedish foods. Still, all that money spent and not a thing to eat, I'd have to be a party pooper and forego the invitation.

There are a few restaurants which offer "alternative" julbord, either an all-vegan one or multi-national dishes. I've never been to one, so I don't know how much they resemble traditional julbord, or if it is just a buffet of dishes. One restaurant in Västerås specialized in this alternative julbord for many years, but eventually they reverted to serving a traditional one. Maybe they didn't get enough dinner guests?


Actually, there's a vegan julbord being held in Malmö tomorrow night. I really wanted to see what it was all about but I have other plans.



give me the fruit and cheese I think I might have to skip the fish! -Alex

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