A Brief History of Smorgasbord: It’s Not Just a Buffet!

published Aug 16, 2012
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While smorgasbord has come to mean any old buffet offering a choice of foods here in the United States, the term originated in Sweden. Its roots are found in the upper class of 14th century Sweden where a small spread of bread, butter, and cheese was offered before mealtime.

The smorgasbord grew to include meats, both hot and cold, and at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm it officially became the main meal instead of an appetizer.

I can report on my delightful experiences with the smorgasbord in my travels to Sweden: it’s generally taken as breakfast, an appreciated large meal at the beginning of busy sightseeing days. Savory dishes included herring, salmon, sliced meats, cheeses, boiled vegetables, and breads while sweets range from fresh berries to pastries to porridge and jams. Smorgasbords are also served at celebratory occasions like the Easter holiday, weddings, graduations and can be extremely lavish.

Have any Kitchn readers ever partaken of a real, bonafide smorgasbord? What was your experience?

Related: Swedish Kitchen Tour: Chez Larsson

(Image: Floris Claesz van Dyck via Wikimedia Commons)