Tzay Skewers in Stockholm's Skansen Park Midsummer Festivity

Yesterday was a very important holiday in Scandinavia. Midsummer's eve marks the shortest night of the year and is second only in importance to Christmas. On this most beloved holiday, marking the beginning of summer and vacation season, it seems each country celebrates a bit differently. The Finns may have bonfires, the Swedes have a maypole and apparently a lot of sex! We were told by several that this is a very heavily celebrated wild day for even the most conservative Swedes, and that a baby boom occurs each March.

Over midsummer weekend people all over Scandinavia abandon their everyday lives for their cottages. They at least make a point of picnicking and eating outdoors no matter what the unpredictable weather does.

Unfortunate for us tourists, the cities just about shut down. We spent Friday back in Stockholm and were directed to Skansen park for midsummer festivities. This is where everyone (and many dogs and pigeons) goes. It's normally a themed park teaching about the old days of farming and life in Sweden - a heritage lesson like our Colonial Williamsburg.
Also unfortunate for us, is that the
typical Smorgasbord is not terribly vegetarian friendly. Pickled herring and smoked salmon are not an acceptable protein - and really not all that enticing to most American palates to begin with. So we worried, with almost all restaurants closed, if we would find decent options at Skansen.

We took a crowded tram around lunchtime to the park and waited in the constantly growing lines to purchase entry. Soon we paid our 280 SEK ($40) and were in. Right away we found a acceptable veg option at Tre Byttor: asparagus tagliatelle. Apparently asparagus is in peak season here, it's everywhere.

We then checked what I thought would be our most promising option: Skansen Terrassen. They were barbecuing outdoors and inside was an Ikea-style grab-then-be-served buffet line. To our delight were TWO good veg options. Artichoke pasta or - surprise surprise - a vegetarian plate with fake meat!

I admit I got the rosemary chicken with potatoes and a blueberry tart, but my husband chose the vegetarian plate. We weren't sure what "Tzay" skewers would be and were happy to find that Tzay is very similar to Seitan. It was kind of like the texture of the "mock duck" in Thai food. They were flavorful and came with yogurt sauce and potato salad of roasted baby potatoes with oil, vinegar, minced carrot, radish and leeks.

What a surprise find, we were pleased. Although it did cost about 320 SEK ($50). Considering we hardly found much else interest in the very crowded park, (just checked out the maypole dancing for a minute, browsed the 10 or so vendors and a couple buildings) it was a very expensive meal after factoring in the entry fee.

Skansen would be lots of fun with children I bet - with the zoo and rides. At least the food was wonderful. You would never find food this good at an American theme park, at least not in my experience which may be limited.
Here is a video our Swedish friend posted on Facebook - it's called "Swedish Midsummer for Dummies". Maybe it will help illustrate for you. Hopefully the link works, as I'm blogging through iPhone I am not sure!

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