Today our good friend Leena made us all a sandwich. This was no ordinary sandwich. This was a traditional Swedish sandwich – a glorious concoction called a smörgåstårta – and it required a special plate to get it into our house as none of ours was considered big enough. All I can say is if a Swedish person ever offers to make you a sandwich, make sure you don’t eat for at least a week beforehand.
This was a sandwich like nothing I have ever seen, a delicious cake-like construction of bread and cheese and seafood and eggs. Two people worked for half a day to make it and I would guess it made a noticeable dent in the salmon and prawn stocks of Scandinavia. I have never been to Sweden but so intricate and perfect is the construction of a smörgåstårta that I can only think it is the result of too many long and dark winter nights where time hung heavy in someone’s hands. This person got so bored of eating toast while watching snowflakes fall they decided to make the ultimate sandwich – and they succeeded. Beside the mighty smörgåstårta a club sandwich is just an eager little puppy. A smörgåstårta is more like a small country than a meal. The construction begins with slices of bread laid out like tiles. On this goes the first layer of filling – in this case cheese, salmon, chopped prawns and crisp green pepper. Then comes another layer of bread and more filling. I don’t know how many layers were in the one we ate today, but it was lots. And it doesn’t end there. The top and sides are spread with cream cheese, tiled with more bread and then iced with more cream cheese. Then comes the finishing touch – on top of the top layer all the ingredients that have gone into the sandwich are laid out like a buffet that looks good enough to swim in.
On the surface none of this has anything to do with the Silver Coast. But we were eating Swedish food in Portugal . There were five adults from four different countries sitting around the table; our four children playing nearby who communicate in Portuguese as it is the one language they share; and outside the windows a sky that was way too wet and grey to be Portuguese. As melting pots go this was a good one. The wine was great. And the sandwich at half time was spectacular.