The St. Lucia Day Treats Marcus Samuelsson Remembers Fondly

It's really no surprise that for renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson, holidays and holiday memories are centered around food. Samuelsson recently wrote a piece for the New York Times about his childhood holiday recollections, which despite his Ethiopian heritage, were largely shaped by his childhood in Sweden. He said, "Some of my own earliest memories of growing up in Sweden are of the tastes and smells of Dec. 13, St. Lucia Day. The Feast of St. Lucia is widely celebrated throughout Scandinavia in schools, churches and homes. For my family, it was a time to come together over good food."

Marcus Samuelsson has had a busy 2022. In a recent exclusive Tasting Table interview, he chatted about his new restaurant, Hav & Mar, the Scandinavian influence on his passion for sustainability, and his Thanksgiving traditions incorporating diverse cultural influences. The chill of a Scandinavian winter and memories of holiday foods will be featured on Hav & Mar's winter menu, so Samuelsson and staff can "welcome people in from the cold to create memories of their own," he explained in the New York Times. He also shared some of his favorite holiday treats.

What treats made St. Lucia Day special for Marcus Samuelsson?

Samuelsson wove a tale of the Swedish smorgasbord of his childhood for the New York Times, a feast of saffron buns, herring, gravlax, turkey, roasted pork, and meatballs. While family members may have had their favorites from the table, Samuelsson wrote, "the one thing we could all agree on — kids and adults alike — were the gingersnaps. There had to be gingersnaps at our St. Lucia Day feast." The cookies, packed full of warm holiday spices, pair beautifully with the other staple of holiday festivities that Samuelsson loves so much: glögg.

Marcus shared his recipe for glögg with us a few years ago, a warm beverage made of red wine, citrus, and spices like cinnamon, clove, and ginger that's just perfect for invigorating holiday visitors and setting everyone at ease. Hav & Mar will serve gingersnaps this winter, along with their beguiling cocktail, Gimme Gimme Gimme Glögg, made with mulled red wine, yuzu sake, Zanzibari nutmeg, rooibos, and orange oil. For Marcus Samuelsson, the holidays are for celebrating and remembering holiday treats like gingersnaps and glögg — special because they evoke happy memories of friends and family.