I love breakfast. In my opinion, it’s the best meal. I also love going out to a restaurant for breakfast or brunch with friends in the US, which in my experience isn’t very common here in Sweden. I am used to having so many options to choose from. Something savoury or sweet, eggs, fruit, pastries, you name it! Swedish breakfast, however, is usually quite different than an American one. It also has options, though in general, a Swedish breakfast tends to be less sweet, and incorporates more use of pieces of bread and cheeses. I set out to make some of my favourite breakfast foods along with a Swedish counterpart and reflect on them.
Starting with the simplest one, there’s cereal. There are so many kinds of cereals both in the US and in Sweden. You have sweet ones and healthy ones, so you can take your pick, but what is the Swedish equivalent? I decided that muesli was the closest thing to traditional American cereal. I am aware that 1. There are probably actual Swedish cereals, and 2. Muesli isn’t from Sweden, but in my experience, it seems to be more popular in general than regular cereal. Is this true? I have no idea, I need to ask more people about their breakfast habits.
For this category, I went with Cheerios for the American option. I was genuinely excited to find them in the stores here in Sweden. You could argue that they are bland, and you would be right, but Cheerios also hit the spot at any time of day. They are great for breakfast, but they are also fantastic as a snack in the evening, you really can’t go wrong. For the “Swedish” option, I went with muesli with strawberries in it, and honestly is was great. There’s so much variety possible here, anyone should be able to scratch their cereal itch at a Swedish grocery store.
From what I’ve seen, breakfast sandwiches are extremely popular both in Sweden and the US, and they can have a lot of variety when it comes to toppings, bread, etc. For the American breakfast sandwich, I went with a bagel sandwich, one savoury with egg and one sweet with cream cheese. Bagels are something I often crave, but they are not the easiest thing to find here in Sweden, so I’ve learned to make my own. This lets me make them all the best flavour, the Everything bagel, which is a mix of dried onion, garlic, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and salt. These were fantastic and brought me back to a time when I ate these for a few months straight in my undergrad.
There is a true Swedish equivalent for the breakfast sandwich, and that is the open-faced sandwich. These can have a number of different toppings and bread, like cheese, deli meats, tomato, and cucumber. The one I made was great with some lemon pepper on top, I do eat these sometimes for breakfast. They are light but filling, I get why the Swedes like them so much. I even tried crispbread with Kalles Kaviar, a kind of cod roe caviar with distinctive packaging. This one was…okay. It wasn’t bad, but it tasted like the ocean. I learned later that I should have eaten it with boiled eggs, so I’ll have to try this one again.
If breakfast is the best meal, then potatoes are the best part of a breakfast. They are something that you’d make when you have time to have a fancier breakfast, and my favourite way to have potatoes at breakfast is in the form of hash browns. These are made by grating potatoes like cheese, and frying them with spices, and they are crispy and amazing. I didn’t even realize how much I missed them until I made them for this blog. This isn’t something you’d eat alone, so I made a fried egg and toast to go with it. This is a pretty classic American breakfast, and automatically a favourite.
For the Swedish counterpart, I decided to go with pytt i panna, which is not really a breakfast food, but it was the closest meal I could think of to hash browns. Pytt i panna, is chopped up potatoes, onions, and meat (or vegetarian alternative), and it’s served with fried eggs and pickled beets. Overall, these are pretty similar meals and are both a fantastic use of their best ingredient, the potato.
I already knew what I thought of both of these dishes before I made them, but I made them anyway for science. I have never been a huge fan of American pancakes. They aren’t bad, but given the choice, I’d pick a savoury breakfast. They have a somewhat cake-like texture and are kind of a heavy meal. These pancakes are usually served with butter and maple syrup, which is exactly what I did. These were good, but like I said, not my first choice.
On the other hand, I love Swedish pancakes. They are light and almost crepe-like, and the traditional toppings include butter, fruit jam, and whipped cream. They do hold quite a bit of nostalgia for me, as I grew up eating them often on weekends, and while I know that has influenced my love for them, I still think they are the superior pancake. They are like eating a dream, and this is the only category where I will declare a true winner, which is the Swedish pancake.
One great way of connecting to ourselves and others is through food. I’ve gotten to share my own food and try a bunch of my friend’s traditional foods over the last year, which has been so nice. It was great having a reason to make all these breakfast meals that I’ve missed, to explore the differences and similarities between them, and to try some new things. This was definitely my most delicious blog so far!