Traditional Swedish cooking cannnot be compared with the sophistication of, say, French or Italian cuisine. Swedish food is usually simple and satisfying, and nowadays also healthy. In the last few decades immigrants from all over the world have enriched our food culture with a host of exciting dishes. Foreign fast food, for example, has become an inseparable part of Swedish youth culture.
Sweden's climate and location are largely responsible for the development of its cuisine. Early inhabitants stocked food supplies to prepare for the start of the country's long, cold winters by preserving meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables.
The Vikings, who inhabited all of Scandinavia more than one thousand years ago, were some of the first to develop a method for preserving foods. In preparation for long voyages, foods were salted, dehydrated, and cured. Though modern-day technology (such as the refrigerator and freezer) has eliminated the need for such preserving methods, Swedes continue to salt, dehydrate, and cure many of their foods, particularly fish.
During the Viking era, a.d. 800 to 1050, these ruthless crusaders embarked on raids all across Europe, invading lands possibly as far south as the Mediterranean Sea. The British Isles and France were in close proximity to Scandinavia, and therefore endured continuous Viking invasions. Over time, various foods such as tea from England, French sauces and soups, and honey cakes from Germany were brought back to Scandinavian territory and incorporated into the diet. Swedes still find soups a great way to use leftover food.
Historically, Swedish cuisine has not been as popular as other European fare. (Even modern-day restaurants in Sweden tend to serve more foreign dishes than their own.) It has, however, been influential. The Russian nation is said to have been established by Scandinavian traders and warriors (called Varangians), and Sweden may be responsible for introducing fruit soups, smoked meats, cream sauces, and herring to early Russians.