January 03, 2014

A Christmas treat - the Swedish Christmas Ham

My special Christmas treat to myself 

or A Little Piece of Sweden in Taiwan

Taiwan meets Sweden. To places close to my heart
I was born in Sweden - 瑞典 (Ruidian). Part of my family is Swedish. Some are still in Sweden. Sweden, the beautiful country in the north of Europe, so different from Taiwan, and so different depending on where in the country you are. But there is one thing we have common all over the country; We take food seriously. For almost every holiday, there is something special, foodwise. Fact is, we even have special days for special food: The Waffle Day. The Day of the Cinnamon Roll. We used to have a "Crayfish day" (or "Crawfish" for those who prefer that name), it used to be the day in August when the crayfish became legal. And so on.

Those who have known me for a long time know that while I am not much bothered about holidays in general, I care about the food. Once upon a time there was even another blog where I would put various recipes up, but as I never follow a recipe myself I gave up that; It is difficult to share knowledge about how a dough or a dish should look and smell for you to know that you had the right amount of everything in it. But food is with or without that very important. 

Christmas just came and went, and even if it for a Swede isn't quite over yet - we generally don't clean out Christmas until January 13 - "Tjugondag Knut" - St Knut's Day (follow link to read more) - the Christmas food has been eaten. 

Typical for Sweden is to have a buffet for Christmas. Premiere is on Christmas eve, December 24, the most important day of Christmas for a Swede, but as we have such ridiculous amounts of food the food from the buffet will be served more than once. 
Swedish Christmas ham. Not quite the way I make it - but very good

Not having been in Sweden for Christmas for a long time I don't follow Swedish Christmas traditions, and even if I do do a buffet - some years I do - I tend to make very different dishes, and just use some of the special Christmas flavours. I don't miss it, it suits me perfectly. I do what I want This year though, being in Taiwan, I all of a sudden, just before Christmas, had a terrible urge.

I needed Christmas Ham. 

Christmas ham has a very central position on the Swedish Christmas dinner table. We cook it the day before, and bake it afterwards, with a crust made out of mustard, egg and breadcrumbs. Nothing beats getting up the morning after Christmas (after Christmas eve that is) making a sandwich using hard bread, and putting a slice of that ham on top, together with some mustard. 

Luckily the big Swedish furniture show opened in Taichung the same week I arrived. And for the first time in many years I actually HAD my Christmas Ham! I am not sure if I was just sentimental or if it was really that good but finding the ham just before Christmas made me smile and kept me smiling the rest of the day. 

I have to say that it is a fascinating experience to visit IKEA in Taiwan; It seems to me the Taiwanese people have taken Sweden and IKEA to their hearts. The lines to get Swedish meatballs in the restaurant is always long, and when IKEA first opened it was difficult to even get inside; There were simply many people waiting in line! No, not just for the restaurant, but for the whole store. It DID make me proud, in some strange way... 

No comments :