The Smorgasbord

Cheese and crackers aren’t supposed to be exciting. But call it a Smörgåsbord and suddenly, Jan and I are in. It’s the go-to supper when we don’t really feel like cooking or going out. But it’s also not the meal to make if we’re feeling lazy either, as we typically spend a good deal of time slicing every type of meat or cheese currently in our refrigerator.

Growing up, the Smorgasbord was the typical Christmas Eve dinner in my family. In additional to meats, cheeses, crackers and breads, we’d add special items like smoked Salmon and homemade Swedish meatballs. We’d also make sure to have pickled herring on hand, which I loved as a kid, that is, before I realized that it was pickled fish swimming in a sour cream sauce. Though I went through many years disgusted by it, I’m now slowing letting the little jar back into my life.

And now, even minus the excitement of impending Christmas-present-opening, this dinner is so much fun. Maybe because we have a soft spot for the appetizers-for-dinner meal, or creating each little bite at the table makes us take our time enjoying dinner. I think the best part is trying different combinations and determining the best.

Clockwise from top: spreadable Port cheese, blue cheese, Gruyere, Dubliner, Muenster, double-cream Brie, and Swiss in the center

This last time, Jan raved about the prosciutto paired with aged Parmesan, while I was smitten with the Black Forest Ham and Swiss Cheese on Black Rye bread. While Jan got creative with his presentation, drizzling balsamic vinegar over a log of goat cheese and sprinkling chopped fresh basil on top, I took it one step further and spread this mixture on a slice of Granny Smith apple for a surprisingly tasty combination.

 While some items make it back for another Smorgasbord dinner, each of these meals is never the same, and maybe that’s why it’s so exciting. Something traditional and simple can sometimes lead to innovation, if we’re willing to try something new.

Pears, Fuji apples, and strawberries