Julbord is the name for a traditional Christmas dinner. Based on my experience with the Swedish smörgåsbord, I figured there would be lots of interesting foods to try. Interesting indeed!
Lots of people in my class had talked about going for the Julbord some time, but it was hard to find the right place. One restaurant near campus charged the equivalent of $70 per person—not exactly a student price. Instead, we went to the home of cheap food in Sweden: IKEA. All-you-can-eat Christmas dinner for $12.
Christmas dinner at IKEA starts like any other meal. Get in line. It was super busy when we arrived, and we waited a good 10 minutes before we even got to pick up our dishes. Then we got in line to pay, then in line at the buffet for food.
What makes a Swedish Christmas dinner? Lots of meat and lots of fish. Lots. Meatballs, little hot dogs, ribs, sausage, liver paté, head cheese…I didn’t realize what that was until I started writing this article. Pickled herring, mustard-pickled herring, berry-pickled herring, herring salad, potato-herring casserole, cured salmon with mustard sauce. Caviar eggs. And a bit of bread.
It’s a heavy meal. So many flavourful foods packed together. Next time I would definitely load up on bread so that I could take a break between mouthfuls of intense flavour. Still, it was fun to try all the variety and enjoy a cheap dinner with friends—that’s not easy to find in Sweden at any time of the year.
Finally, one of my favourite parts. Everyone pays before going to the buffet, but it’s all-you-can-eat. So as you pay you get a sticker, and you have to wear that as your pass. Dozens of people are sitting in the cafeteria, filling their plates with crazy food, and wearing stickers that say “Enjoy Christmas Dinner.” Is that an order?