Swedish julbord goes organic, local and vegetarian
Even though Christmas is mostly about tradition for most Swedes, new trends are slowly finding their way into Sweden's classic Christmas buffé, also known as julbord.
This year, for example, we can try a vegetarian version of the traditional pickled herring "sill" made of soy beans, or Swedish meatballs with a mixture of meat and soy.
"Young people in Sweden want to try new products and sometimes they want to avoid meat. So when you invite your grown-up children to eat the traditional julbord, you have to have new products," chief executive of the Swedish Food Federation Maria Söderqvist tells Radio Sweden.
According to Söderqvist, one of the biggest changes in recent years is the growing importance of organic, fair trade and locally produced food.
In a survey about Christmas food presented Tuesday by the federation, Swedes said that the most important things when planning their julbord are that the food is produced in Sweden (59 percent), that it has high quality (40 percent) and that it is organic and environmentally friendly (25 percent).
The same survey shows that every other Swede is a frequent consumer of organic products.
Food companies have reacted to this new demand by Swedish consumers, and it is now possible to buy organic glögg, sill and mustard, just to mention a few Swedish Christmas classics.
Other traditional dishes have disappeared from the julbord, also as a consequence of Swedes' environmental awareness. Smoked eel, for example, is very rare these days, as it is an endangered species.
Sylta, a type of jelly meat, has also become less common in the Christmas buffé, but in this case it has nothing to do with the environment.
"One reason has to do with taste, but another one is time. It takes a lot of time to organize this dinner, so I think most families go for six or seven dishes. That's enough!" Söderqvist says.
Some dishes might be gone and a few new ones might be finding their way in, but for most Swedes tradition is still paramount.
"We are very traditional when it comes to the julbord, so the trends are still small. Maybe we try one new thing each Christmas," Söderqvist says.