In Northern Europe, the term varies between ‘cold table’ and ‘buffet’. In Eastern Europe, each language has a term that literally means Swedish table such as in Hungary svédasztal.
In Sweden it has been used since at least the 16th century and it became popular in the mid-seventeenth century, when the food moved from the side table to the main table and service began containing both warm and cold dishes. The cold buffet was served as an appetizer for a gathering of people and eaten while standing before a dinner or supper, often two to five hours before dinner, sometimes with the men and women in separate rooms.The Swedish buffet became internationally known at the 1939 New York World’s Fair when it was offered at the Swedish Pavilion’s “Three Crowns Restaurant.” In a restaurant, the term refers to a buffet-style table laid out with many small dishes /such as tapas in Spain from which, for a fixed amount of money, one is allowed to choose as many as one wishes.
But later referred to the small pieces of butter that formed and floated to the surface of cream while it was churned. These pieces reminded the old Swedish peasants of fat geese swimming to the surface. The small butter pieces were just the right size to be placed and flattened out on bread, so “smörgås” came to mean buttered bread.
In Hungary the Swedish table was a kind of symbol of the socialist era. A small buffet was served prior to a meal before sitting at the dinner table. Later on it became a main course at weddings, celebrations or congresses. Recently I accompanied my husband to Budapest where I ate the most delicious Casino egg ever! Here is the recipe:
Butter and sour cream lend a rich foundation, but it’s still lighter than a typical mayonnaise-based egg salad. And the anchovies add a hint of salt and briny depth. This is terrific served with lettuce and fresh vegetables as a salad or cucumber pickles!
Ingredients: 6 hard-boiled eggs, halved, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, 3 tablespoons sour cream, 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar or rather mustard, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 3 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained and minced, 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives, 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion or shallot
Methods: Scoop the yolks from the halved eggs and put them in a medium bowl. Add the butter, sour cream, vinegar or mustard, sugar, and pepper. Whisk together until a creamy, smooth paste forms.
Coarsely chop the egg whites and add them to the egg yolk mixture, along with the anchovies, chives and red onion. Gently fold the ingredients until fully mixed.
Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The Casino egg salad can be made up to 3 days in advance.
Ham rolls with horse radish cream
24 oz cream cheese (Philadelphia light) or home made béchamel (from butter, milk, flour, salt, pepper, and horseradish), 3 tbsp horseradish from jar, 2 tbsp finely chopped onion, 8 oz sour cream, 2 lbs cooked ham, 1 teaspoon of sugar (thinly sliced),
In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese, horseradish, onion and sour cream. Flavor with a pinch of sugar. Spread the mixture onto the ham slices. Tightly roll the slices and secure with toothpicks. In Hungary it is typical to garnish with cherry on the top and parsley! (From cooked cherry compote)