Living in a city with a restaurant like Ann Sather, (a Scandinavian breakfast place known for their life-changing cinnamon rolls), it’s hard to say that Scandinavian food isn’t already a “thing” when talking about menu trends. If you wander up to Andersonville – a small, quaint neighborhood in Chicago – it’s pretty easy to find restaurants that sell Swedish pancakes and other Scandinavian specialties. I do realize, though, that this isn’t mainstream. In most cities (even Chicago) you really have to seek out this type of food.
This leads into an article I read recently in Metro that talked about why Scandinavian food is taking over the New York dining scene. The article talked about how the Nordic fashion and music (think H&M and Robyn) and Swedish-raised chef Marcus Samuelsson have really helped with this spike in New Nordic cuisine in New York City. And we all know that if New York is seeing a surge in a menu trend, then the rest of the country should be ready for it to make its way to us in a few years’ time.
In fact, I think we are already seeing some aspects of Scandinavian menu trends at some restaurants nationwide, even if we don’t realize it is Nordic. Take for example the practice of pickling. Pickling has been a big menu trend for the past two years – especially at fine dining and upscale restaurants in the U.S., and that has started to trickle into chain restaurants like Smith & Wollensky’s and Mellow Mushroom. Technomic even reported that they saw a 20% increase in “pickled” mentions on menus of the Top 500 emerging and regional chain restaurants in the US. But pickling, once a necessity for the cold winter months, is something of a culinary art in Scandinavian countries. Pickled herring anyone?
And, don’t forget about Ikea, the home furnishings store! Its origins are…you guessed it… Scandinavian. If you’ve ever been to an Ikea you know it’s hard to leave without having their famous meatballs. Swedish meatballs are delicious and also something you’ll find on a lot of menus – from fine dining down to casual.
Reindeer sausage is another great example of Scandinavian food that is starting to pop up across the US. It was something I saw on a lot of menus in Alaska while on vacation this summer. True, this is also an Alaskan delicacy, but something that could easily be seen on menus in the continental US and something I think we might start seeing more of.
So, maybe Scandinavian food is more prevalent than we may think! And I believe we’ll start seeing it a lot more in the coming years on menus all over the world.