The Wonderful World of Tube Food


I grew up with milk in a bag. I assumed the whole world did. I was wrong. It turns out bagged milk is something unique to Ontario. Everyone else thinks it's funny and weird, maybe even gross, but I see it as normal, even preferable. This is the situation most Swedes will find themselves in when foreigners come across their food packaged in toothpaste tubes.

 kalles, Kavli, scandinavian packaging, Swedish cuisine
tubefood, kalles, Kavli, scandinavian packaging, Swedish cuisineEvery supermarket in Sweden has a section where colourful tubes dangle from specially designed shelves. These contain various flavoured cheese and fish products as well as mayonnaise, mustards, and vegetarian pates. As strange as it seems this packaging style is really efficient. It doesn't take up much space, and the contents stay fresher longer because air can't get into the vacuum, unlike a jar where the contents are exposed to air. All the products are designed as spreads, so you squeeze what you want onto a piece of bread or knäckebröd, put the tube top back on the tube and your done. No mess, no dirty knives. It's like George Jetson advanced technology.

The most common thing to put tube food on is knäckebröd, a flat, dried crisp bread usually made with rye flour. This type of bread is very popular in Scandinavia, but seems to be stuck in the health food section in North America, which is a shame because its delicious. Knäckebröd will last a long time, so you could keep a package and some tubes in your stuga (cottage)  and it will last all year. Most  knäckebröd comes in individual wafers for one, but they also sell these giant wheel shaped knäckebröd that look really cool, but I don't understand the purpose. Is it party size to break and share?

tubefood, kalles,

Kalles Kaviar is the most famous tube food in Sweden. It's a mixture of salted cod roe, potato flakes, and sugar. It's considered such a Swedish icon they sell it at IKEA around the world. A piece of knäckebröd with sliced hard boiled eggs, Kalles Kaviar, cracked pepper, and dill is a classic Swedish snack that everyone should try. It's the definition of umami.

Swedish cuisine
tubefood, Kalles Kaviar is also used in a traditional Swedish dish called gubbröra. A fishy egg and potato salad that uses both tube kaviar as well as pickled anchovies. Ädelost is one of my favourite tube foods. The creamy blue cheese goes great with pepparkakor, a type of gingerbread cookie. There are a huge number of surprisingly flavoured cheese in tubes as well. Bacon, lobster, mushroom, ham, chorizo, and even reindeer are some of the flavours. I like the bacon flavour on hotdogs, and the shrimp flavour on a hotdog recreates another strange Swedish classic. The mushroom flavour is good on toast under the broiler, and some people blend the ham or bacon flavours with spaghetti and parmesan for a fast carbonara.

Tube food is also popular in other countries, especially in Norway which has it's own iconic brand of kaviar called Mills. Ten years ago the only food in tubes I could find in Denmark was mayonnaise and remoulade, but recently I've seen Amanda brand introduce a line of Danish food tube with tuna salad, mackerel, and cod roe flavours. Germany also offers a limited amount of tube food, mostly mustards and mayonnaises.

Another form of tube food popular in Scandinavia is premade ready meals packed into a plastic sausage shaped tube. Classic dishes such as bruna bönor, guleærter, grønlangkål, boller i karry, and risalamande, are some examples. most of these are actually good, especially the grønlangskål

Danish cuisine

 One day I think tube food will catch on and we may see things like tube cheese whiz with bacon, or tube guacamole. I think it would be cool.

tubefood, Swedish cuisine

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