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Swedish Embassy Offers a Taste of the ‘Edible Country’

By Kate Oczypok

Swedish Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter invited local D.C. foodies and journalists for an intimate luncheon on May 29 celebrating a new culinary adventure in Sweden.

The one-of-a-kind dining experience was held at the ambassador’s residence along Nebraska Avenue to highlight what Sweden calls the “Edible Country,” billed as the largest gourmet restaurant in the world.

The Edible Country is a 100 million-acre do-it-yourself culinary experience where visitors can forage for food and cook their own dishes in the lush forests of Sweden. They get to choose from a menu made by four Swedish Michelin-starred chefs.

Swedish Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter
Swedish Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter talks about her country’s new project, “Edible Country.”Photos: Kate Oczypok

Those who ventured out to the gardens of Olofsdotter’s residence were treated to a menu prepared live by Swedish Embassy chef Frida Johansson that was designed by the four Swedish Michelin-starred chefs participating in the Edible Country attraction.

Swedes pride themselves on healthy, natural, simple foods inspired by the landscape around them. But for billions of people around the globe, processed fatty foods have become an everyday habit that is taking a serious toll on people’s health, with obesity rates in the U.S. — and now many developing nations — continuing to skyrocket. Sweden is promoting the message that natural and healthy can also be tasty and easy to make — all while having a huge impact on one’s lifestyle and well being.

Those who visit Sweden for this one-of-a-kind experience will receive a menu from the Michelin-starred chefs with ingredients easily found in Sweden’s lakes, forests and fields. Luckily, there are very few toxic foods in Sweden, so it is easy to find foods like edible berries and mushrooms. Many of the top chefs in Sweden often gather their own herbs and other homegrown ingredients for their restaurants.

Swedish Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter
Laura Wainman, David Hagedorn and Rina Rapuano enjoy the grounds of the Swedish ambassador’s residence.

“Sweden has the right to public access in the country,” Olofsdotter said, citing government rules that give residents the freedom to explore any part of the country, as long as they don’t disturb or destroy the environment. “We hope this will inspire people to get out and roam.”

This freedom has led to the popularity of many recreational sports in Sweden such as skiing, swimming and bicycling.

For those who are a little less audacious in scouring for food in a forest, cooking kits can be rented that contain all the necessary items needed for the Edible Country experience. Local guides can also be hired. Tables can be booked for free at visitsweden.com/ediblecountry between the months of May and September. There are currently 13 wooden tables set up in picturesque locations across the Nordic nation.

Sweden has always had a deep relationship with food. In the spring, summer and fall, Swedes end up harvesting more than they can eat, according to the recipe book “The Swedish Kitchen” by Liselotte Forslin. Fruits and berries are cooked and preserved, vegetables are pickled, and meat and fish are smoked, salted, fermented and marinated for future use. Swedes also enjoy long-lasting breads and biscuits as well as root vegetables like potatoes and beetroot.

As one can see, the Swedish kitchen is just as much outdoors as it is indoors. And now people from around the world can sample this slice of Swedish gastronomic culture.

For more information on the Embassy of Sweden, visit https://www.houseofsweden.com/en/embassy-of-sweden/

Kate Oczypok is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.



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