Swedish Codfish


“We fly to Jemteland, where the rocky mountains are high and blue; where the Foss roars and rushes; where the torches are lighted as budstikke, to announce that the ferryman is expected. Up to the deep, cold, running waters, where the midsummer sun does not set; where the rosy hue of eve is that of morn.”

“That is the birds’ song,” writes Hans Christian Andersen in his 1871 travel memoir Pictures of Travel in Sweden, “Shall we lay it to heart? Shall we accompany them — at least a part of the way?” He did follow those birds, and his travels led him through the “glorious land” of Sweden, “home of the limpid elves, where the wild swans sing in the gleam of the Northern Lights.”

Andersen’s meanderings through the land of endless forests eventually brought him to Kinnakulla, Sweden’s hanging gardens. “The travellers go from the forest road up to the top of Kinnakulla,” he writes, “where a stone is raised as the goal of their wanderings.” From this vantage point, where black clouds of crows and ravens scream across a pale blue sky, Anderson writes that he can survey “Wener, to Lockö’s old palace, to the town of Lindkjöping.”

Perhaps Andersen visited an inn in the town of Lindkjöping–unfortunately he does not say if he did or not–and enjoyed a humble meal of stewed codfish, like this one from the 1897 Fullständigaste Svensk-Ameritansk kokbok: Swedish-English Cookbook.

Stewed Codfish

Pound the fish and soak 36 hours; take up, remove the bones and pick it to pieces, boil until tender. Melt in a pan a piece of butter together with a handful flour and add milk enough to make a somewhat thick sauce. Boil it and put the fish into it. Potatoes or cut carrots might be added. Season with pepper and salt.

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