Volume 1: What's for Lunch?
Sweden

This Is How Swedes Have Lunch: Creamy Salmon Pasta in the Stockholm Office

Mitsubishi Electric Sweden
May 2018

Oscar Eiderbrant is a digital marketing communicator who is responsible for all of the company's digital marketing channels, such as websites, social media, newsletters and press releases.

"Almost every day, I bring my lunch from home", says Oscar. "I almost only eat lunch out on special occasions like somebody's birthday and such".

Today, as usual, he had lunch in the office, located in a suburb of Stockholm, with his co-workers. He enjoyed creamy salmon pasta loaded with kale, spinach, onions, garlic and parmesan cheese.

"It was very good and healthy", he says. "Actually, salmon is one of Swedes favorite dishes".

In fact, salmon is essential to Swedish culture. On Midsummer Eve, along with pickled herring, boiled new potatoes and a strawberry cream cake, grilled, smoked or cured salmon plays a central role on a traditional dinner menu to celebrate Midsommar, one of the most important public holidays in Sweden.

Not only do the Swedish love to eat salmon, but they have fun fishing it. Sweden is blessed with a coastline and rivers rich with salmon, where with any luck, you will catch the big ones. A few years ago, the country was surprised at a news report that a local fishing buff landed a 127cm/25kg monster salmon.

Sweden is globally famous for having several lifestyle philosophies of its own, such as lagom (meaning "just the right amount; not too little, not too much"), and this may be counted as one of them. The photo above says it all: the staff have lunch together in their office…and everyone is eating their lunch from a plate, not a lunchbox. They are not doing this for a photo shoot. They always do this. In Swedish workplaces, many people place their packed lunch on a dish and microwave it.

For one thing, generally, the Swedish view lunch as a proper meal that you should enjoy hot using decent tableware while sharing a table with other people―not a quick meal that you just grab cold from a plastic container while staring at your computer screen by yourself.

"It's nice to sit in the office and talk with colleagues over lunch", says Oscar. "In Sweden, lunch is an important time to socialise.".

Speaking of socialisation, we have to make reference to the fika. "Fika" is a Swedish word roughly translated as a coffee break, but it has a profound cultural connotation―it's more about socialising than having a break. Every Friday at 2pm, Oscar and all of his colleagues at the office have a fika in their office, where the staff take turns on who will get the pastries (cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, etc) ready for a fika. Socializing over food is one of the most important components of Swedish culture.

Gamla Stan, the "Old Town" area in Stockholm where the Royal Palace is located, is about 20km from the Mitsubishi Electric Sweden head office.