Breakfast: Swedish-style

I'd heard about the significance of Swedish hotel breakfasts, but until I experienced the phenomenon there was no way to understand (or appreciate) its massive importance. Imagine waking up in your small but modern hotel room, stumbling bleary-eyed to the dining room, and meeting the largest smörgåsbord your greedy little tummy has ever dreamed about:
Rows and rows of fresh, robust breads with soft balls of spreadable butter and more preserves than you know the names of in Swedish. Next to the bread is an entire table of cold cuts, pates, cured and smoked salmons, pickled herrings, crispbreads, quick pickled cucumbers, lingon, pickles, fresh vegetables, and at least three Swedish cheeses. Move on to the yogurts and filmjölk, nuts, dried fruit, more preserves, honey, granola, tropical fruit, fresh fruit, and syrups. American breakfast is also represented, as well as English, with scrambled and softboiled eggs, bacon, baked beans, sausage, priskorv, and Swedish pancakes. Pastries piled high include cardamom bread and cinnamon rolls, croissants, cookies, and more butter, preserves, and desserts. You might find bagels and cream cheese, and fruit juices. And coffee. Lots and lots of hot fresh coffee. Strong enough to wake your taste buds, and gentle enough that even I can stand two cups before my day begins. Too strong for you? Add a little milk and get over yourself.

Find a seat at a solo table, or eat with new friends at one of the communal spots. Be sure to grab a clean plate if you dare go for seconds.

Not staying in a hotel? Look for a decent coffee shop as soon as you rise, and return there every morning. The owners will get to know you and offer free slices of cool crisp melons. You will dream about cafe lattes served in bowls as big as your head and topped with petite meringues. Eat your way through the bakery items, and never leave a sandwich loaf or a salmon paj behind.

Always relax over your breakfast. Appreciate your coffee, your surroundings, and your blessings. Coffee isn't to-go, coffee is to-stay.

Finally, when the sad day arrives and you must say goodbye to Sweden, be sure to take an early SAS flight out, and drown your sorrows with the nicest little boxed breakfast you'll ever have: coffee or tea, a warm bun or crispbread from the passed basket (so civilized!), cold cuts, cream cheese, butter, vegetable,yogurt, granola, marmalade, and juice.

My theory, following two weeks of blissful Swedish-style eating, is that it isn't just social democracy that makes Nordic people the happiest on earth, it is their amazing breakfasts.


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