This week's dream
Foraging for food in the Swedish countryside
Visiting Sweden? Bring a basket, said Andrea Sachs in The Washington Post. When I heard that the country’s tourism board had recently launched Edible Country, a program that encourages people to cook meals foraged from the forests and fields, I had to have a taste. In Sweden, access to privately owned undeveloped land is a constitutional right, “as integral to the Swedish lifestyle as universal health care and pickled herring.” The so-called right to roam allows all people to wander—and forage—pretty much anywhere that isn’t a private garden or within 75 yards of a residence. And you don’t have to be Swedish. “As long as you follow the edict of ‘Do not disturb or destroy,’ you, too, can shop in Sweden’s supermarket without walls.”
To inspire foraging adventures, Edible Country has set up 13 summer cooking stations, scattered about the country, that visitors can reserve for free. Each one is just a large picnic table in a beautiful setting, but all are run by local hotels or outfitters happy to rent out cooking equipment or provide experts for hire. And the variety is wonderful: “You can reserve a seat on a windmill-dotted island in the Stockholm Archipelago, a seagrass-fringed beach on the Kattegat Sea, a forest overlooking the 19th-century Gota Canal.” I joined a group of four others at Asa Herrgård, a hotel in the southern province of Småland. Because bushes right on the hotel grounds “popped with gooseberries and currants,” we filled our foraging baskets before hopping into an ATV and riding past fields of sheep on an unpaved road to Lake Asa.
Thanks to guidance from the hotel’s chef, Pontus Sjoholm, we gathered a bounty of purple clovers, yarrow, hazelnuts, fir tips, and lucerne (which tastes a lot like peas). We tossed those ingredients into a light salad that whetted our appetite for a second course of pike and parsnips smoked in juniper, with potatoes, wild onion, and artichokes. “I cleaned my plate. The food was fresh, bright, and pure—no preservatives, no pollution, no faking the seasons. I am pretty sure I had plant stems and berry skins in my teeth, a smile that shone through my dirt-streaked cheeks.”
At Asa Herrgård (asaherrgard.se), doubles start at about $112. ■