22 August 2010

Smörgåsbord explained

After perhaps a year of using the term "smörgåsbord" to describe my intermittent linkdump of various items for you to pick through, I realized that some readers may be unfamiliar with what a smörgåsbord is.  At a blog called "Anna's Australia" I found the photo above and the following nice description:
The traditional Swedish smörgåsbord consists of both hot and cold dishes. It's served buffet-style and diners go around the table themselves picking the dishes they want. Bread, butter and cheese are always part of the smörgåsbord as well as eggs and different types of cold fish dishes which are generally various forms of pickled herring, smoked salmon and eel. There are often omelettes, gratins, sausages, meatballs and pates among the hot dishes. The point is to eat much protein, so that potato and vegetable dishes have a rather modest role on the smörgåsbord, as opposed to a buffet where salads and potato gratins occur more frequently. Dessert may or may not be included.
There then follows an explanation of the correct protocol for which dishes to eat first and last (only newbies put everything on their plate at once), which you can read at her blog.
In an extended sense, the word smorgasbord is used to refer to any situation which invite a person to select whatever they wish among lots of pleasant things.


  1. The photos which you present of professional smörgåsbords always bring back fond memories of my childhood. My family would occasionally visit relatives in Rockford Illinois(from eastern Michigan)and we would often partake of a restaurant smörgåsbord while there. I have not seen a real smörgåsbord since those days in the 1950s. I guess that one must live in a Scandinavian related area to find one.

  2. Yes, I think to get a real smorgasbord with cold fish on it, you would need a bit of Scandinavian influence, because it's a little different from the allyoucaneat groaning boards at resorts and hotels.

  3. I thought it literally translated into "sandwich table." But my mom (from Illinois) has always referred to buffets as smörgåsbords.

  4. And in a somewhat comical connection, a buffet in Japan is often called a "lunch Viking".


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