Christmas market tranquil at Saluhallen in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2018

Even if the markets are not as populous in Scandinavia as they are in Southeast-Asia where I grew up, there’s always a certain sense of panic with last minute shopping, especially during festive seasons, like Christmas. I was however, pleasantly surprised to find the main market hall Saluhallen in Gothenburg, in complete calm during the late afternoon on the eve of the eve of Christmas, Christmas eve being the big family meal for most families in Sweden.

So it was thoroughly enjoyable doing this year’s Christmas marketing, picking up a bit of liver pâté, an assortment of cheese and some more preserved herring to add to our existing collection of flavoured herrings for the home Christmas table. Since Gothenburg is a coastal city, our own Christmas table very much reflects the culinary traditions of the region with an emphasis on piscatorial dishes. A favourite this year seemed to be smoked rainbow trout. That, and there’s always room for dessert. This year’s favourite was caramelized baked apples with vanilla cream. The vanilla cream was made the old-fashioned way with lots of egg yolks, and vanilla beans.

In the Nordics, they bake gingerbread hearts and put them up as decorations in pine trees, shop windows, and sometimes, wrapped on gifts as a tag.

Fresh baked bread wrapped as brown paper packages tied up with string. “These are a few of my favourite things.”

The festive season in Gothenburg sets the background to new creations of preserved herring. A few years ago, I had tried cola herring. This year, I found mango herring (at the store) and lingon and vodka herring (made at home), in addition to our favourite staples which are mustard herring, and French onion herring.

Cat. About a year ago, he decided to make this house his home. We’re happy that he did.