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Scandinavian smorgasbord

What do Scandinavians eat at festive occasions?

Koldtbord with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs

Koldtbord with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.

In the beginning of May, while the snow still covered the mountains like heaps of confectionary sugar, my family gathered at Sommarøy to celebrate my mother turning 75.

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The fishing village Sommarøy

Sommarøy is a little fishing village nestled on several islands about 50 kilometres outside Tromsø, the main city in the North of Norway. To get to Sommarøy, literally meaning Summer island, you have to cross the Sommarøy bridge, a one-lane bridge bringing you to Hillesøy island, the center of the community with their own school, café and general store.

Sommarøy is dotted with numerous sandy beaches and modern seaside cabins. People come here to go kayaking, whale watching or just renting one of the seaside cabins. Only 450 inhabitants live here, but they live side by side with a rich community of birds. Outside our seaside cabin sea gulls were following small fishing boats and sea ducks were swimming and diving in small groups. On my way to the general store a pair of grouse were running and chirping at the sight of me.

Our seaside cabin lied almost at the beach, rendering a feeling of staying somewhere else, such as the Hamptons or Marthas’s vineyard. But this was not the Hamptons. The snowy mountains, the cold temperature and the neigbouring island with the mountain cutting down straight to the sea made sure this was the North of Norway, far above the Arctic Circle, almost 70 degrees north. It was May but the birches were grey, still waiting to burst into green.

Sommarøy in the Nort of Norway

My mother at Sommarøy in the North of Norway, raising her glass.

Koldtbord at Sommarøy

Koldtbord at Sommarøy.

Cured lamb with melon.

Cured lamb with melon.

Skagentoast with shrimps, chives and dill.

Skagentoast with shrimps, chives and dill.

Scandinavian smorgasbord for festive occasions

My mother wanted me to make koldtbord, a smorgasbord and a typical meal at festive occasions in Scandinavia, particularly for Independence Day. Koldtbord is very practical food that can be made in advance, and caters to different flavours. It is Nordic style tapas and consists mostly of cold cuts, such as smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, skagentoast and cured meat. My mother also brought along cloudberry jam and homemade meatballs and lamb roll with cloves. For dessert we had two cakes highly cherished in my family, kvæfjordkake and tropisk aroma.

It was truly a festive occasion. My mother turned 75. She was born in 1940, at the time of World War 2. She turned 5 when the war ended, on the same day Norway became independent, May 8. Now my family from the north and the south of our country gathered on this tiny island to celebrate her.

Cucumber and paprika. Easy greens.Koldtbord, Nordic smorgasbord.

Suggestion for koldtbord:

Scrambled eggs with chives
Smoked salmon
Skagentoast with shrimps and dill
Cured meat of lamb with melon
A good Norwegian artisan cheese
Lamb roll from the North of Norway
Organic butter from Røros Dairy
Bread and crispbread

Hungry for more Nordic food?

Arctic mille-feuille (kvæfjordkake)
Skagentoast for Norwegian Independence Day
Scandinavian crispbread
The open sandwich is back