What Charlie Ate; Swedish Christmas (Julbord) and Hanukkah

How do you emulate and sustain your culture, when the actual ingredients to do that are hard, if not impossible to track down? (Let alone local, or sustainable…) 

Maintaining your own culture in another country can be pretty hard. My son though, who is half Australian, and half American, is now completely addicted to Vegemite, (I worked hard at this and now he requests it on italian bread, bagels even. Oy!) but, maintaining your culture when there are not a lot of local products on hand can be really tough.

On Anzac Day, in Australia, (Which is April 25th) we wear sprigs of fresh rosemary, play ‘2-up‘ in the local pub and make Anzac Biscuits. I use my mother’s recipe (She was actually born on Anzac Day, so she has nailed this biscuit recipe, almost really— from birth). But to find the ingredients here in the States is hard, and I never get it right. An Anzac Biscuit made in the States will never taste like one made in my homeland. Are they bad? Not at all, but how do you authentically preserve culture—when you are not able to correctly emulate the past? Will my child grow up thinking that a correct Anzac Biscuit is how I make it in the States, which is not at all authentic to it’s true origin.

Little Charlie is half Jewish and half Swedish. Louise, her mother—hails from Sweden, and finds it difficult to maintain her culture here, as well. Louise came to Los Angeles when she was just twenty, so she has had to do Holiday’s as an adult, with advice from parents and friends who call over the phone and the Internet (which helps with recipes). She found ways to improvise but things don’t taste the same as they they did back home, and there are few places where she can find typical Swedish ingredients. There is a Danish, Swedish, Finnish deli in Los Angeles, where she got most of her Julbord items, but its not the same.

Santa in Sweden is called Jultomten, and he comes on Christmas Eve to give presents. This year Tomten (usually Charlie’s grandpa!) skypes from Sweden, dressed as Santa, but if there is a Santa in Los Angeles he makes a house call after dinner and is welcomed with a shot of Aquavit.  Available everywhere, and thankfully true to Swedish heritage.


LOUISE’S JUL BORD —Christmas Smörgåsbord (Sweden)

SWEDISH MEATBALLS: (Charlie loves!)
Mix half Ground Pork and half Ground Beef together, with EggsHeavy creamSalt, Pepper, day old Breadcrumbs or day old Potatoes. Roll Meatballs. Fry in Butter till brown on each side. Then turn down heat and cook slowly. Once the Meatballs are done add Heavy Cream to what ever is left in the pan and a little Soy Sauce for salt and color and a little Flour till thick and hot. (Yummy – Charlie loves the sauce!) You also eat meatballs with Lingonberry.

LOX with LEMON CREAM FRAICHE and CAVIAR (4 stars on the Charlie scale)
Serve Gravlox with Hovmästar Sauce. (Which is a sweet and sour mustard sauce, made with 2 tablespoons sweet mustard2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard2 tablespoons Sugar2 teaspoons White Vinegar, 14 tablespoons of  oil, 14 tablespoons of chopped Dill) Put Sugar and Mustard and Vinegar together and stir, slowly. Add Oil at an even stream while mixing really hard and consistent, add White Pepper and Salt to taste and add Dill.
6 potatoes, 1 Onion (which also keeps the potatoes from turning grey) an Egga pinch of Baking Powder and a cup of Flour made into cakes then fried in Vegetable Oil, until golden. Serve with Apple sauce: Apples, SugarBrown Sugar and Cinnamon to taste and Sour Cream.
PHOTO’S FROM TOP: Ari’s cooking cocktail: Campari and Soda. Louise’s Jul Bord  (Swedish Christmas)MeatballsPrince korv – (little hotdogs), Red beet Salad – (Red Beets with crispy Apples, Onion, with  1/2 Mayonnaise and  1/2 Cream Fraiche.) Swedish Ham – Boiled, then a Mustard glaze and baked to a nice crisp, Meats, Cheese, Herring – (Pickled different ways.) Egg with Creme Fraiche and Caviar on top (which Charlie loved!) and also Liver PatéLatkes (pictured with Charlie), 
Swedish products were purchased from Olsen’s Scandinavian Foods, click here.
Swedish Ham was purchased from Schreiner’s Fine Sausages, click here.

7 thoughts on “What Charlie Ate; Swedish Christmas (Julbord) and Hanukkah

  1. Nonetheless.. a very festive looking spread. I think it’s such a shame there aren’t importers to bring these ingredients in? Is there anyway to do so online?? I love your black and white photo:)

  2. Great piece! I get my Irn Bru, biscuits, and sweeties from World Market and my local Harris Teeter supermarket! Forget about getting haggis or white pudding over here though.

  3. Dimity – love the photos of the spread of delicious food as well as Charlie. These posts are adorable, and I really enjoy them. Keep it coming.

    Happy New Year to you!!

  4. Lots of Swedish food items useful for Julbord can be found at any IKEA. Straight from Sweden without a lot of extra cost like imported food shops.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s