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The word smörgås means something like "open sandwich", and bord is the Swedish word for "table", but still a smörgåsbord is not a table full of sandwiches. This specialty consists of a number of small dishes from which you can take your pick. An average smörgåsbord may contain a number of herring dishes (sweet-pickled herring, pickled herring with onions, mustard, dill, etc.), Swedish meatballs, salmon, pies, salads, 'Jansson´s temptation' (sliced herring, potatoes and onions baked in cream), eggs, bread, boiled and fried potatoes and so on.

Smörgåsbord was served already in the 18th century but at that time it was used as an appetizer before the main course. Gradually, however, it has become a meal in itself. Today few people ask for more after having tried everything on a smörgåsbord.