Instead of taking my bucket list trip to Sweden last summer, I went to Ikea.
It was for the store’s midsummer smörgåsbord, which returns this week. It’s an all-you-can-eat salmon-filled buffet that draws Swedes from all over Central Texas, and this year’s event takes place on Friday with three seatings (4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.) in the cafe inside the Ikea in Round Rock and will feature Ehrling Lundberg, aka the Swedish Elvis. ( Tickets cost $12.99 for adults — $9.99 if you’re an Ikea Family member — and $4.99/$2.49 for children 12 and younger, and you can buy tickets ahead of time at the Ikea restaurant and find out more at ikea.com/us/en/store/round_rock/activities.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of Swedish pride in a state settled by as many Swedes as Czechs and Germans. We all know about kolaches and sausage, but what about Swedish foods that are not lutefisk?
Earlier this month, I learned about ostkaka, a Swedish cheese cake that is not a cheesecake, because two Central Texas families — the Ericksons in New Sweden and the Sellstroms in Austin — are featured in a national ad campaign that is airing in Sweden from a company called Frödinge.
I asked the company rep if Frödinge was available in the U.S., or even by mail order, and he said no, but I thought the commercials featuring the local families were an interesting look into how Swedish culture continues to thrive — at least in their homes — in Central Texas.