The Swedish Cook
Good Food From Sweden. By Inga Norberg. ( Chatto and Windus. 5s.) Reviewed by IRIS CONLAY From the discussion of tourists lately returned from Sweden, one might be led to imagine that the Swedes existed on a diet of smorgasbord (which is hors d'oeuvres much glorified), punsch (which is a potent drink concocted of brandy and other spirits with a dash of turpentine) and biscuits. But Swedish food has no such monotonous crudities about it.
The great point about Swedish cooks is their ability to make something out of next to nothing. They bring much imagination to the job and they take infinite pains. They are also believers in the artistic appeal of food; no dish is ever presented in an unappetising state. They cultivate a natural sense of colour, and they take pride in decorating food as well as merely cooking it.
To get a new angle on cooking you should invest in the Inga Norberg book. It will freshen you up again, if you are getting into the "what shall we have for dinner to-day" mood. Inga Norberg will suggest new ways of cooking old dishes. For instance, cod is considered a very uninteresting fish by most people. If served with a special wine sauce (inexpensive to make because it only needs about one wine-glass of sauterne) it partakes of another reputation at once.
Another inspiration from Sweden for Friday dishes is the famous fish mould. I see in this book that crayfish butter is part of the ingredients, but the alternative method of using ordinary butter is just as successful.
Vegetables have a generous chapter to themselves, too. Here you will learn that the mere boiling of vegetables is not enough. Carrots can be raised to high dignity if glazed, potatoes become quite exciting strangers if stewed, and if a little cream is introduced into the cooking of turnips no one would realise their close relationship with mangel-wurzels.
All the • sauce chapter might well be learnt by heart by conscientious cooks, and so too might all the ways of serving apples.
Bread and biscuits have an honoured place in this book, and so has the famous smorgasbord.
To this last subject no small book could do any real justice—not even the dimensions of the Encycloptedia Britannica itself would suffice to enclose all that Swedish housewives know about the preparation of their special hors d'oeuvres.
Then there are the several national dishes peculiar to the Swedes. Very few people over here have eaten Pytt-i-Panna, nor have they experimented with Arter med Flask soup. Arter med Flask soup appears on every Swedish table on Thursdays. It is the most economical soup possible to imagine, yet the entire population agree that no expensive delicacy can supplant it. King Gustav is reported to have said that it is his favourite food—anyway, it is so substantial that it is lunch in itself.
By no means is this little book the complete Mrs. Beaton of Swedish cooking, nevertheless, for an outlay of five shillings, the English cook should not feel herself cheated of useful information.