A reader recently asked about the difference between an American buffet and a the traditional Swedish buffet, a smörgåsbord, so I wanted to share a little bit about this great Swedish tradition, and how it differs from the American-style feasts. The difference is that the smörgåsbord is about the ritual and about the process of eating the food. You go back to the table five times, and during those numerous times you eat different foods each time.
You go up to the table times for cold items, then two for hot, then once for desserts. There is an art to eating a smörgåsbord correctly, and the fun is in doing it right. The Christmas smörgåsbord is called a Julbord and is even more specific.
The importance of going to the table each time, choosing the food, and the order that surrounds this special meal makes it so important. It's unlike an American-style buffet where you go up and choose whatever you like. That has it's benefits too, allowing you to pick and choose, and buffets certainly changed seasonally and for the occasion, but not as rigorously as the Swedish style.
Have you eaten a smörgåsbord?