Deborah Bragan-Turner

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2003 Supplement: Food and Drink
in Sweden and in Swedish Literature

Guest Editor: Laurie Thompson

Swedish Book Review 2003:1 issueReading and writing about eating and drinking is no substitute for the real thing, but it does have its pleasures.When compiling this supplement, an attempt was made to find some of the best descriptions of various aspects of food and drink in Swedish literature. It soon became clear that surprisingly many of the scenes one remembers turn out to be vivid and detailed in one’s memory, but not nearly so detailed on the page. A tribute to the author’s skill, no doubt, but not so appropriate for a themed issue like this one. Another unfortunate circumstance confronting the guest editor was that some excellent extracts from recent novels had already appeared in Swedish Book Review: the school dinner scene in Torbjörn Flygt’s Underdog, for instance, and the opening chapter of Carina Burman’s Den tionde sånggudinnon (The Tenth Muse) — although we were able to get round the latter problem to a small extent by quoting a longish piece from it. The literary feast we were eventually able to serve up contains a variety of dishes that we trust will go some way to satisfying the appetite of readers for both old favourites and new delicacies.

Rather than restrict the supplement to translations of literary texts, it was decided to include articles (and translated extracts) about typical Swedish foods, some famous Swedish drinks, eating out in Stockholm and some ideas about how food and drink are used in literature, with Fredrika Bremer’s writings as an example.We learn how Swedish Americans enjoy a traditional meal of potatiskorv (potato sausage) whereas few modern Swedes have ever heard of it, and find out a little about one of Sweden’s best restaurants which is also the centre for training future workers in the food and drinks industry despite being hidden away in the central Swedish countryside. And of course, such subject matter gave us an excellent excuse to include some of the superb pictures that are nowadays taken for granted in books to do with our theme. (Many thanks to the Editorial Board for allowing the additional expense of full colour — a luxury made possible largely because of a generous grant from the Anglo-Swedish Literary Foundation.)

Thanks also to the many people who suggested suitable texts, and especially to Helen Sigeland, Birgitta Thompson and Claes Hylinger.

Smaklig måltid, and enjoy the feast!

CrayfishFood, Glorious Food!
Birgitta Thompson
Birgitta Thompson provides a mouth-watering overview of Swedish food and culinary customs.

Birger SjöbergKarl Ludvig Proposes a Smörgåsbord
Birger Sjöberg
Translated by Tom Ellett

Birger Sjöberg is best known as a poet, but our extract from his highly amusing novel Kvartetten, som sprängdes (The Quartet That Split Up, Albert Bonniers förlag, 1924) is one of the best-known references to food in twentieth-century Swedish literature.

Fredrika BremerShaky Puddings: Fredrika Bremer's fictional way with food and drink
Sarah Death
This article, an abridged reworking of a paper first given as part of the Fredrika Bremer Bicentenary Year programme, examines the treatment of food and drink in the writing of nineteenth-century Swedish writer Fredrika Bremer.

Marie HermansonA Heavenly Meal
Marie Hermanson
Translated by Neil Smith
This story, "Himmelsk måltid", was specially written by Marie Hermanson for the book Vårt svenska matarv. En kärleksförklaring (Our Swedish Culinary Heritage. A Declaration of Love) published in 2003 by Bokförlaget Arena in conjunction with Föreningen Årets Kock (The Chef of the Year Association).
Torsten EhrenmarkThe Privileged Swedes
Torsten Ehrenmark
Translated by Silvester Mazzarella
Torsten Ehrenmark was the London correspondent for Dagens Nyheter for many years, and this is one of his many columns first published in that newspaper. Ehrenmark often teased the English but was a strong Anglophile; his widow and family still live in London.
BränvinSweden and Alcohol
Laurie Thompson
Laurie Thompson offers a brief history of Sweden's relationship to alcohol and outlines the principal facts about brännvin and punsch.

BränvinSwedish Schnapps
Bengt-Göran Kronstam
Translated by Laurie Thompson

This text is an extract from Den underbara matresan (A Journey Through the Wonderful World of Food) published by Norstedts in 1995.

Mikael NiemiThe Wedding Feast
Mikael Niemi
Translated by Laurie Thompson
This text is from Mikael Niemi's Populärmusik från Vittula (Norstedts, 2000). Flamingo published the English version in Britain as Popular Music in July, 2003; the American version was published by Seven Stories Press in September, 2003.
August StrindbergEating Crayfish
August Strindberg
Translated by Eivor Martinus
This extract is from "Måste" (Must) in Strindberg's collection of short stories Giftas (Getting Married), vol. 1, first published in 1885.
Claes HylingerFriends of the Belly
Claes Hylinger
Translated by Peter Graves
Claes Hylinger, born in 1943 in Gothenburg where he still lives, is the author of some ten volumes of sketches, novels, observations and travelogues. This extract from his novel Det hemliga sällskapet (The Secret Society, Bonniers, 1986) is set in the Paris of boulevard cafés and mildly other-worldly expatriates, perhaps Hylinger's favourite setting: one of his many gifts is to find the local equivalent wherever he goes.
Viking LongshipThe Yule Feast
F G Bengtsson
Translated by Peter Hogg
The Vikings certainly knew how to eat and drink, and Bengtsson's novel Röda Orm (The Long Ships, 1945), from which this extract is taken, is famous for the way in which the author creates the admosphere of the Viking age, evoking the style of the Icelandic sagas.
Ulf LundellEating at the Savoy
Ulf Lundell
Translated by Marie Allen
This extract is taken from Saknaden (The Void), Wahlström & Widstrand, 1992.
Lennart HagerforsIn the Supermarket
Lennart Hagerfors
Translated by Laurie Thompson
This extract is taken from Lennart Hagerfors, Livet är det som pågår medan vi sysslar med annat (Life is What Happens While We're Busy Doing Something Else, Norstedts, 1991). In a series of episodes Hagerfors depicts the humdrum existence of I.S., described as a "Swedish man in early middle-age" as he tries to cope with life in Stockholm as a single parent.
AbbotThe Lord Abbot
Translated by Martin Murrell
This anonymous 15th century text is presumed to be an adaptation of a foreign, possibly Latin, or, it has been suggested, English original, though satirical accounts of life in monasteries and of the extravagant indulgences of their inmates are quite common from the 12th century onwards.
C M BellmanEpistle I: to Cajsa Stina
Carl Michael Bellman
Translated by Silvester Mazzarella
We present, in English and in the original, eighteenth-century poet and troubadour Carl Michael Bellman's Epistle 1 to Cajsa Stina.
Grythyttans GästgivargårdGrythyttans Gästgivargård
Laurie Thompson
Laurie Thompson introduces the inn at Grythyttan, now one of Sweden's best and most famous culinary establishments, and presents the inn's recipe for baked fillet of reindeer.
Swedish and US flagsPotatiskorv on the Table
Laura A Wideburg
In the reflections of a fourth generation Swedish-American we learn how Swedish-Americans enjoy a traditional meal of potatiskorv (potato sausage) whereas few modern Swedes have ever heard of it.
Swedish ChefCulinary Sweden. From milk bar to sushi bar
Linda Schenck
Linda Schenck and Kerstin Gustafsson present their memories and experiences of eating out in Sweden from 1968 to the present day.

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