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Home About Swedish Traditions Smörgåstårta, a Swedish Culinary Specialty
Smörgåstårta, a Swedish Culinary Specialty Print

The Swedish word smörgås translates into English as sandwich. The literal translation may seem a little odd as it combines the words for butter and goose, the distant cousin of ducks and swans. The word said to date back to the 16th century refers to the churning of butter, where lumps of butter rise upward floating like geese on the surface of the milk. Such lumps of butter came to be spread on bread. While this defines the basic sandwich, various toppings of sliced vegetables and meats are usually included in the typical sandwich. Although unrelated in this context the Swedish language has also adopted other expressions with the word goose, such as Vita Gäss for White Caps at Sea.

The smörgåstårta is a layered cake resembling a dessert or coffee tart in shape and appearance. The difference is in the composition and ingredients of a sandwich, which are salty or main course related rather than sweets. Layers typical ranging from three to four are made up of varying types of loafed bread where individual loaves are joined to allow for producing a given size layer of circular, rectangular or other shapes. Depending on the occasion, day-to-day or more festive or celebrational gatherings, there is plenty of choice in selecting ingredients and garnishments. The smörgåstårta is very popular in Sweden and other Nordic countries and is either custom prepared at home or by a bakery, typically providing a few different choices, for instance seafood, meat or cheese based or variations thereof.