Midsummer is traditionally marked across all the Scandinavian countries with celebrations, festivals and even bonfires – in some countries the festivities go on for the entire week of summer solstice, in others you’ll find the feasting restricted to the 21st or 23rd of June.
Flowers are picked, good food is shared and there is a steady trickle of booze to lubricate everyone well into the morning. Songs are sung and as long as the weather holds, much of the midsummer celebrations take place outdoors. Because it’s light virtually 24 hours at this time of year you don’t sleep much – something I relished as a child, using the excuse of midsummer insomnia to read all my favourite comic books late into the night, not to mention the excuse to snack on strawberries from my grandparents’ strawberry patch on their farm.
As mentioned, food is a big part of midsummer festivities and a quintessential Scandi midsummer feast might feature freshly caught fish, homemade meatballs or fat bowls overflowing with delicious, sweet North Sea prawns, like the ones you see here. You can also use these tasty aquatic critters to make sexy little canapes as I did recently for a book signing at my local design and gift shop Something – simply butter some Peter’s Yard sourdough crispbread, then gently dollop on some mayonnaise, top with a couple of peeled prawns and add a spritz of lemon juice. Finally garnish with some lumpfish or salmon roe, and a thimblefull of fresh dill. The best fast food in the world, bar none.
Those who know me will tell you I have a particular penchant for these sweet North Sea prawns, preferring them to their beefy Pacific cousins which I find quite bland and flavourless. So when my dad brought a box o’ real prawns back from Bergen recently (they’re expensive and hard to source in the UK) we sat down en famille and peeled dozens of prawns, making sure not to throw away the umami-rich roe, and ate them on white baguette bread with mayo, lemon and thin slices of cucumber. A glass of Schloss Vollrads Riesling – I forget the year, frankly I was too absorbed in quaffing the wine – married perfectly with this simple Midsummer supper.
And solstice celebrations wouldn’t be the same without a plate of crimson strawberries sprinkled with a tiny bit of sugar and cushioned with a cloud of Rodda’s Cornish clotted cream. This may not be strictly Scandinavian (and the strawberries were from the Wye Valley so it’s an all-Brit dessert!) but the coupling of strawberries n’ cream is as traditional in Scandiland as it is over here. But I will admit that Cornish clotted cream knocks the socks off plain old double cream any day.
So there you have it, a Scandi midsummer feast. Simple, elegant and delicious. What midsummer treats do you have in store for this week I wonder?