Scandinavians don't let summer's arrival pass by unannounced.
On the eve of the solstice—the longest day of the year—Swedes clear out of the city, heading to the country to eat, drink, dance and sing. Midsummer, as it's known, is a raucous afternoon and evening filled with food—many lovely pickled things, the first-picked strawberries of the season—and the clinking of nubbe, small shot glasses filled with chilled aquavit.
It's a delicious celebration. So as our nod to the summer solstice eve this Friday, we made our own version of the traditional Midsummer Night's feast, a gorgeous meal filled with bright of-the-moment Swedish flavors.
Pile crisp rye breads with pickled herring (see the recipe), cured with salt, marinated in a sweet-sour brine with aromatics like carrot and bay leaves, and finally topped with a simple mustard sauce (see the recipe).
Cool off with poached shrimp dressed in crème fraîche and dill (see the recipe); new potato salad with chopped cornichons and capers (see the recipe) is served warm, so that same, versatile mustard sauce really soaks in. Set out a little finely chopped onion and chives and even more dill so guests can garnish at will.
And no Midsummer meal would be complete without a mess of sweet pressgurka (see the recipe), a much more delightful way to say "pickled cucumbers," sliced very thinly and infused with caraway. For dessert, all you need are fresh strawberries and cream.
Handmade wildflower crowns, frolicking around a midsommarstång (maypole) and setting bonfires ablaze are traditionally part of the fun too. But we think setting out a few small vases filled with rambling wildflowers should do the trick.
Should a dance or two break out, skål to you.
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