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What’s with the coffee and sandwiches? What kind of sandwiches? It seems like this is all they eat. Frozen pizza, fish casserole and ham pie are mentioned, but sandwiches are in almost every chapter. I’m just curious.
Posted by , 9 November 2010
uhh i know the swedes drink excessive ammounts of coffe plus they have the whole open face sandwich thing wich is kinda mentiond allot. probbaly a reflection of larssons acctual diet
Posted by benwasheare , 10 November 2010
I agree. A massive amount of coffee and sandwhiches are comsumed in these books. What is with that?
Posted by elle426 , 10 November 2010
open sandwiches are a plot ploy along with the descriptions of floor area. No ikea plugs either..
Posted by frabro in melbourne.vic , 11 November 2010
I read the entire trilogy on iPad over a month, on my lunch breaks, while drinking coffee and eating sandwiches – either tuna salad or turkey wraps. So it felt kind of like being there with the characters who where always having coffee and sandwiches. It felt natural.
Posted by ponzu in O.C. , 15 November 2010
how about the billys pizza? she eats tons of it and from what i gather its a real product in sweden sold at various places including 7-11!
Posted by ma in pittsburgh , 16 November 2010
In my opinion,I guess those food reflects her character. She doesn’t seem the person who likes cooking or is good at….is she?
Posted by ET in Tokyo , 16 November 2010
it does come up really often. i also enjoyed reading about the marmalade and cheese sandwiches. have actually started eating tem for breakfast. enjoyable!!
Posted by smi in Mumbai , 16 November 2010
Cleary, Swedish people drinks ton’s of coffee, mineral water and drink no soda whats-so-ever.
Posted by Jerry in Perry, GA , 17 November 2010
I think it’s really interesting how they eat sandwiches and coffee in the book. It seems…satisfyable. But maybe, it reflects what he eats or what he observed when he was writing his boko.
Posted by Amy in San Diego, CA , 18 November 2010
LOL. YOU MADE A TYPO.
Do you mean “book?”
Anyways. I agree with you. ^
Posted by FakeName Lyons in Narnia , 18 November 2010
and don’t forget pickles…
Posted by kas , 19 November 2010
what I want to know is–why does everyone outside the US say “sandwiches” ? We usually let it go with one “sandwiche” which is 2 pieces of bread with stuff between. Why the plural?
Posted by chart in Madison WI , 21 November 2010
Coffee and sandwiches. Beside all the other things in the book to remember, coffee and sandwiches stand out hte most. However, onr other thing is missing. When a lead character finanny falls asleep, he, she, does it in about 30 seconds and sleeps for at least 15 hours. WOW
Posted by captaingeraldo in boston , 22 November 2010
i agree. coffee. coffee… coffee….
theyr really addicted…..shud seek help….
i cant imagine it can be healthy to drink so much coffee in one day….
it made me wanna drink coffee!!!!!
and the sandwiches???!! cheese and marmalade?? wat kind of marmalade??? and wats the difference between jam and marmalade??? and wat kind of cheese??? someone posted that they tried it with ‘jarlsberg’ cheese??? wud this work?? i really wanna know….
it sounds very very very strange….
Posted by girl_interrupted in AUSTRALIA , 23 November 2010
I am a Finn (neighboring country to Sweden) living in the USA. Reading the books got me so homesick. Billys pizzas!!! They are tiny rectangled panpizza pieces that just are tossed in the micro and voila! And they are sooo good. About the cheese and marmalade. I still eat here a warm slice with toast with a bit margarine, a slice of swiss cheese and a teaspoonful of orange marmalade. It is so yummy. Enjoy it with a cup of COFFEE …LOL
Posted by a Finn that speaks Swedish and lives in the USA in South Carolina , 25 November 2010
I am not remotely surprised that the vast majority of these comments regarding coffee come from Americans, who appear to believe that any behaviour which does not mirror their own is deviant! Swedes drink copious amounts of coffee – just a simple fact! To find cheese and marmalade a weird combination from a nation whose children grow up on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is ironic, no?
Posted by swedish literature rules – raed Henning Mankell next in Norwich, UK , 25 November 2010
Chart in Madison WI:
The plural is because sometimes one sandwich is just not enough food. Even if you cut one in half it would technically be two sandwiches.
Coffee is a convenient way and reason to meet up with people. Traditionally “fika”, which is coffee and a snack (something sweet, kanelsnurror, etc), is something nice to do especially in winter because it’s quite cold and dark which makes one tired.
Posted by Benjamin in Stockholm , 25 November 2010
From a Swede-American: Swedes drink a lot of coffee, and eat a lot of sandwiches. That’s all there is to it. And sandwiches are open-faced, with either crispbread or delicious dark sliced bread, butter, sliced cheese (I’m talking real cheese and not this processed cheese product business that’s considered cheese here in the US), and veggies like cucumbers and tomato. Sometimes with ham, sometimes with jam.
Posted by Goldie in Ann Arbor , 28 November 2010
Goldie in Ann Arbor makes me feel much better about the mental image I had of all the sandwich eating. I did not picture them eating processed ham and american cheese on Wonderbread. I actually did picture the open-faced sandwiches that I had a lot of when I was in Germany – on thin, hard, dark bread, with delicious cheese and Westphalian ham or some type of sausage.
Posted by Connie in Buffalo, NY , 2 December 2010
I would guess a lot of questions come from Americans because we are curious…I had a German prof. once who commented how odd Americans are for making a pot of coffee and drinking it all day…go figure.
And the cheese thing did sound odd until someone mentioned Swiss cheese…jam or jelly with cream cheese is a pretty common topping here.
Posted by Kat in Portland, Oregon , 4 December 2010
when me and my girlfriend now wife went to sweden the first thing our friends did was put the coffee pot on i had not seen one like this before but the coffee was good we went to the town and there were so many sausage stools im not suprised that lisbeth sandler sneaked one of those occasinally in between computer work and eating billy pizzas
Posted by email@example.com , 13 December 2010
hatmanfromhandras: Were the stools in town shaped like a sausage or consisted mainly of? When did Lisbeth sneak one in? Because I don’t remember any descriptions of that bodily function.
Posted by King O’malley in Canberra , 14 December 2010
Sweden is the second largest consumer of coffee in the world! 😉 We are not that into tea 😉
Posted by Elina in Ystad , 16 December 2010
I went out and bought marmalade and had it on toast with cheddar, avocado was off so missed the full effect. So taken by the books I could not get the sandwich out of my head until I tried it. I think eating and drinking connects the reader to the story as people, their daily routine of normality underlying their new roles as super heroes.
Posted by Lisa in Brisbane Australia , 17 December 2010
Barely a few pages go by without a coffee machine being switched on. I like coffee as much as the next person, but the Millennium trilogy takes it to ridiculous proportions. The description of Salander’s coffee machine verges on coffee porn.
Anyone have a favourite coffee reference from the books?
Posted by Supertec in Chingford , 2 January 2011
I´m am an American living in Holland and I must say the coffee and sandwhiches bit is pretty similar to what I have seen in Holland. Coffee in the morning, mid morning, at lunch, mid afternoon, and in the evening after dinner. Breakfast consists of a few open faced sandwhiches, usually with butter cheese and sausage, and lunch is 4 or 5 open faced sandwhiches with the same or something sweet like jelly or hagelslag or even just butter with sugar. Reading these books made me greatly appreciate the daily routine here, and if there was such a thing as coffee porn I would probably watch it, I´m an addict lol.
Posted by mkm in handel,nl , 2 January 2011
I have to agree with Supertec, while the books were very entertaining, the references to coffee (poured from a thermos) were so frequent that they started to get rather irritating..
Posted by mkw in Hong Kong , 3 January 2011
As an typicall swede. Now that i read some of your comments. Let me point out some things. Yes the swedes are the 2:nd largest consumer of coffee. The toast with swiss chees and some orange marmelade is excellent. But hard bread with either just caviar or ham and some musterd on is also great. And another great version of hard bread is swiss cheese with cucumer and tomato is also good.
As for why there is so much of the coffee and the sandwiches and billy pizzas. My idea is Stieg associated himself very strongly to the characters in the books. He was under a lot of preussure, running his paper, the economy, the threats from the right-wing movement. And on top of that writing the books.
Posted by Picasso the mean MCO cat in Luleå , 6 January 2011
The characters are working round the clock and need coffee to stay awake. And sandwiches are easy for Lisbeth to carry while she’s on the hunt. Plus, she lives alone and likely isn’t interested in cooking for herself; food prep steals time from computer research.
Posted by Nighthawk in Anchorage AK , 6 January 2011
@ frabro in melbourne.vic ,Lisbeth furnished her new apartment from Ikea – the only reference to Ikea though, though they get 2 plugs in this post. LOL
Lived in Germany – could visualize the sandwiches and coffee just the way they are eaten over there – put me on a lifelong trek for the best bread in the world, which I still think is German bread. Best cheese: Bulgarian feta. Add tomatoes and olives and one is set!
Posted by juliea in Orlando, Florida , 10 January 2011
a “sandwich” is also just a simple slice of dark whole grain bread with a thin slice of meat, cheese, topped with cucumber, some kind of mayo-salad and so on. It is quite scandinavian, and in the danish translation it sometimes is said to be “madder” – you can find a deluxe version of a danish “smoerrebroed” on http://www.idadavidsen.dk/index.php?page=3 ;o)
As for the coffee – it didn’t even strike me as odd – I don’t drink coffee myself, but it is ever-present in Denmark too – in the morning, mid-morning, afternoon and evening, coffeebreaks is considered a human right…;o)
Posted by danish in Denmark , 18 January 2011
LOL, Swedes love their coffee (usually black!) and cheese and marmalade is a common combination, just like North American like their peanut butter and jam sandwiches, which I found kinda weird when I first came over here.
Posted by , 22 January 2011
smörgås=sandwich. bread, BUTTER (why was everyone leaving out the butter?) cheese, ham. sometimes tomato, cucumber, shrimp, mayonnaise.
There is something like “afternoon tea”, in Sweden called “fika”. it’s usually around 3 or 4 and one stops to have coffee (oh the coffee here is really strong, not like Starbuck’s or something else lame) and smörgås and cake/pastry/etc.
Posted by Veronica in Södra Ängby , 23 January 2011
I find it hilarious as I read through all these comments.
@chart in Madison,WI and mkw in Hong Kong, get your heads out of your ass. Your cultures do not rule the world, even though you think they do. Why not do a little research if you read a book about people and places in a different part of the world from where you live. Enlighten yourself without being a total idiot. It reflects on you, and where your from. Luckily we have people like ‘Veronika in Sodra Angby’ and ‘Picasso the mean MCO cat in lulea.’ To give us a better perspective.
Posted by Joel in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada , 31 January 2011
I really enjoyed reading about the eating habits in Sweded… and everything else I didn’t know about, like placenames and monetary values. It adds authenticity to any book. I did notice that they drank a lot of coffee but it didn’t strike me as very strange. They always seemed to be in situations where coffee was needed! Besides, I think if the setting was Ireland, the same could be said of the amount of tea we drink.
Posted by Ro in Ireland , 1 February 2011
Posted by Ro in Ireland , 1 February 2011
A question for those who drink coffee all day: Doesn’t it affect your sleep?
I read somewhere that Stieg Larsson suffered from sleep problems.
I love coffee but can’t drink any after, say, 2 pm or I can’t sleep that night.
Posted by Bob , 1 February 2011
as a coffee drinker (6 cups a day at least) and sandwich fan (no one to cook for, no mess, and huge variety) I did not find the books odd in that respect. This thread, on the other hand, is a little odd. But then, I would be weirded out by a book where people drank pop and ate chips all day.
Posted by Lydia in Canada , 9 February 2011
Herr Larsson might have suffered sleep problems due to the fact that he had a target on his back? Proper Swedish coffee is made in a copper pot where one boils the water adds the coffee and lets it sit (whilst making the sandwiches). The spout sits high on the pot so the grinds sink to the bottom and the coffee pours off the top. Anytime someone shows up at your home, you are expected to make coffee and put together something to eat. Anytime you show up tp someone’s home, it is rude not to drink their coffee and eat something.
Posted by Veronica in Södra Ängby , 15 February 2011
“I am not remotely surprised that the vast majority of these comments regarding coffee come from Americans, who appear to believe that any behaviour which does not mirror their own is deviant!” – Swedish Lit Rules
I love it that instead of saying unusual or strange behaviour, you said DEVIANT. Brilliant. The Americans believe that any behaviour different from their culture’s is “deviant”.
So Swedes are the second biggest coffee drinkers….who are the first? Italians? They certain drink a lot here, and one cup disappears in about 2 seconds. They don’t mess about!
Posted by Cass in Christchurch, NZ , 21 February 2011
deviant = something that strays from the norm.
A lot of us — from countries all over the world –commented on the amount of coffee because it was outside our norm.
And as Swedish coffee is strong, and heavy on the caffeine, it made me wonder how drinking so much affected sleep and the body’s central nervous system. I think I would drop dead if I spent a day drinking coffee with Michael Blomkvist — my body would go into shock. Really. But perhaps a person develops a tolerance for so much caffeine over time.
In any event, I don’t think anyone is engaging in “my country’s better than yours” — so can’t we all get along? Celebrate our differences? Kumbaya.
Posted by Bob , 22 February 2011
I so loved these books as well and I could also relate to all the coffee being drunk. It was as if I was right there sharing our same commonality – coffee!
Posted by Jane in Fairfield CA , 27 February 2011
@Cass: I believe the Finns are the biggest coffee drinkers. Also, Swedish coffee is served in rather small cups, not huge mugs.
Posted by Veronica in Södra Ängby , 12 Mars 2011
My grandmother ( Signe) and my mother (Linnea) are Swedish, we lived in Chicago. The food mentioned in the books is very typical faire. Growing up, I thought these combinations were unusual, and my friends teased me about all the butter butter butter on the bread, often w/ a sausage called “corv” sp? I still have fond (lol) memories of not eating Christmas dinner consisting of items such as head cheese, pickled herring, rye crisps, caviar, and of course Glogg. Reading about the foods isactually such a fond reminder. What I would give for gama’s smorgas now.
Posted by linn in michigan usa , 31 Mars 2011
@Linn: It’s “korv”
Posted by Veronica , 2 April 2011
coffee is good anytime of the day weather its freeze dried, as a first cup a frappe, a expresso or a form of home mixed bean or a mixed filter blend, living in greece the day is about coffee, wether its in small cup, or big, and then there is the gryros the sandwich form of a lovely snack anytime of the day what a perfect creation the characters should of come to greece first and tried the greek way
Posted by hatman in crete , 11 April 2011
I found it to be humorous that they drank so much coffee in the book. I didn’t know coffee was such a customary thing in Sweden and was delighted to learn so many things about the country through these books, even if it was just a simple thing like that. I drank more coffee during my time reading these because it was mentioned so much I was always craving it.
Posted by Michaela in Kansas, USA , 13 April 2011
attending my monthly book club meeting tonight, where the ladies and I enjoy “pot-luck” and book discussion. We’ll be discussing “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”. Most everyone really enjoyed the trilogy and our next book will most certainly be not as enjoyable. Last month I suggested our “pot-luck” be coffee and sandwiches. Some of the ladies agreed this was a great idea so I’ll be bringing small tea sandwiches of tuna salad on wheat bread and smoked turkey with applebutter and a big pot of coffee, yummo! Coffee and sandwiches are quick and satisfying in a world of espionage, murder, revenge and magazine publishing! 😀
Posted by Jeanmarie Petrino in Beacon Falls, CT , 13 April 2011
What struck me was the teaspoon of milk that was added to the coffee. Seemed so precise:-)
Posted by Marge in Brisbane – Australia , 25 April 2011
The translation into English of the coffee pot as a “thermos”(vacuum flask)seemed a bit strange. I would imagine it would be logically something like an air pot with a top plunger or even a carafe on a hotplate.
I too drank too much coffee whilst reading the books.
(continual subliminal messages from Stieg!)
Posted by Ray in Sydney , 21 May 2011
@Ray: No, it’s correct. A lot of Swedes make coffee and keep it around all day in a thermos
Posted by , 21 May 2011
I think that Larsson’s death is in part to his obvious diet. Coffee, cheese sandwiches, and lets not forget all the smoking. What a combo!!! No wonder this brilliant man died so suddenly. What a tragic loss.
Posted by Kathleen Leonard in USA , 22 May 2011
I find it hilarious that other people noticed the amount of coffee consumption in the trilogy as well; I thought I may have been the only one. After reading all these posts, it surprises me that some people think that bringing up the subject means we who noticed it think we’re somehow superior to the Swedes, or that we’re judging them for a behaviour that may be different from our norm. I disagree completely. The difference intrigued me as I read the books, and mostly I was just curious as to whether or not this habit was indeed country-wide, or if perhaps it was simply Larsson’s personal preference that he included into the stories. After reading these posts, I’m glad to discover an answer, but I wouldn’t want to be judged for simply questioning it in the first place.
Posted by Mona in Edmonton, AB, Canada , 31 May 2011
Always with the criticism of Americans. Enough already.
Posted by proud to be an american in USA , 14 July 2011
Maybe it’s because coffee can brew and then sit for a fairly long time….so less hassle to make. And also sandwiches are easy and quick…let’s face it…these journos and hackers are busy people with better things to do!
Posted by Rachel in UK , 9 November 2011
I am from Washington State and it is cold and dark. People here drink tons of coffee. I believe that it must have something to do with the rain and lack of light. We have to make up for our lack of vitamin D somehow.
Posted by chedahl in bellingham , 18 December 2011
Haha, Coffee and sandwiches..one of the little things I loved from the books.
Posted by Michael in Louisiana , 28 December 2011
……interesting to note that in many scenes in the trilogy breakfast consisted of coffee and sandwiches. A nice little quirky Swedish custom?
Posted by hilogreg in hawaii , 29 December 2011
Lisbeth struck me as someone who doesn’t cook because she didn’t grow up in a healthy home environment and had no model for domesticity. And she is too uncomfortable in conventional settings to go to a sit down restaurant. So it fit her personality to be eating quick foods like sandwiches, frozen pizzas, and fruit. And when she knew she had to hunker down for an investigation, she stocked up on these items so she wouldn’t have to go out for days.
Other characters who fed on sandwiches seemed to be doing so because they needed a quick meal. When they had leisure time (which wasn’t often), they ate regular meals (e.g. Mikael and Berger at Samir’s or Mikael at his sister’s house).
While I accept that Swedes drink lots of coffee, I didn’t think it needed to be mentioned as often as it was. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the books, but they could’ve edited out some sub-plots and some of the coffee drinking, and turning on the coffee machine, and going to the coffee machine to get a refill, … The resulting story would’ve been the same.
Posted by Ronna in texas , 26 January 2012
Coffee is a Scandinavian National drink. It can be documented to the Viking age. I am a food historian and I have a copy of King Gustav I journal were he complains how he learned to drink that “horrid brown liquid” but discovered it made his insides feel better. I am not surprised that coffee is included in the stories. Besides, the Americans don’t have room to talk about the amount of coffee they drink. It is callled by fancy names like Carmel Macchito, cafe latte with low fat soy etc.
Posted by VikingMom in San Diego , 8 February 2012
My dad and I turned the book into a drinking game: every time they mentioned the coffee + sandwich combo you’d have to take a shot. Needless to say we both wound up feeling a bit warmer by the end of the book if you catch my drift. And the plot was all the more intriguing after a couple shots of whiskey! I highly recommend it
Posted by Pianoman617 in Boston , 15 Mars 2012
I don’t think that commenting on the cultural differences we note in the books means anyone believes anyone or thing is “deviant”, or even particularly odd; it’s just a point of discussion.
If a Swede reads in an American novel something that they think is unusual, or which they don’t understand, and he or she comments on it, is that offensive, too? Does it mean that he or she thinks that everything Swedish is superior and correct? No, it’s only curiosity. It goes both ways.
(On the other hand, watch what you say about peanut butter and jelly – those, as they say, are fighting words!)
My first thought when I read about the cheese on toast for breakfast was, we don’t eat a lot of cheese in the morning…but, of course, we do, in a slightly different way. A lot of Americans eat those “fast food” biscuit, sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches, and of course there are cheese omelettes. True, we don’t generally mix it with orange marmalade, but it sounds like something a person could get used to pretty easily.
Oh, and for the record, there WERE a couple of sodas drunk in the Trilogy. I think it was toward the end of ‘Hornet’s Nest’. Two bodyguards were on duty watching someone – Blomkvist, I think – and they were said to be drinking Cokes.
Posted by godwulfAZ in Scottsdale, Arizona , 15 Mars 2012
The references to coffee didn’t surprise me at all since I live in Seattle, we drink a lot of coffee here , too, and Seattle has a Scandinavian heritage as many of the early settlers were from there. Also the Northwest USA and Scandinavia share those long hours of darkness in the winter, which I think stimulates our caffeine consumption :-).
Posted by JKB in Seattle, USA , 31 Mars 2012
I’m American and not a coffee drinker. I didn’t find the coffee consumption in these books to be excessive. Maybe because I know how popular coffee is to some people (my immediate family!), or because, as a non-coffee-drinker, I tend to think anyone who drinks coffee on a daily basis is drinking it by the gallon. Who knows. Plus, they’re having a lot of late nights with their research, so they’re probably drinking coffee to stay awake sometimes.
I also did not think the mentions of sandwiches were weird. Sandwiches are my default food (to be fair, actually toast is, or a sandwich on toasted bread, but peanut butter and jelly is great, or, if I’m feeling healthy, a veggie sandwich), and I assumed that the characters were so busy with their crime-solving that they didn’t have time for proper cooking. It seemed reasonable to me.
I’m also 1/4 Norwegian, though that had nothing to do with my “American upbringing” and is irrelevant to this post.
Posted by Molly in Ohio, USA , 28 October 2012
I would like to know how many times exactly does this book mention coffee, if someone took (probably wasted) his time doing this please tell me. firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I read this book and also when I saw the movie I wanted to drink to much coffee just like the characters.
Posted by DAVID S2R in Guatemala , 17 April 2013
If you do a picture search on any search engine for “smörgås” (copy’n’paste) you’ll get the idea what the sandwiches he wrote about would look like. Especially the ones with only one slice of bread.
The “smörgåstårta” is also nice 😉
Posted by REx in Sweden , 18 May 2013
I’m American and thought that the constant use of ‘coffee and sandwiches’ in the books was humorous – not because it seems deviant or that I am being judgemental regarding Swedish caffeine intake. The books just seem to take place in a world where ‘coffee and sandwiches’ are the only thing that is consumed. It’s like if Stephen King’s characters throughout all of his books only ate Apple Pie and milk and this occurred in every chapter. I have a constant craving for coffee and sandwiches while reading these books.
Posted by AM in USA , 28 December 2014
As a descendant from Holland living in Australia, we call the times in the day when coffee is drunk ‘coffee drinking time’ and we all sit round drinking coffee and eating sweet things.
Posted by Eeffoc in Sydney Australia , 1 January 2015
I am a yank, I drink coffee all day and into the evening (I even roast my own coffee beans) I have all my life. I also eat a lot of sandwiches–I like sour dough bread and San Francisco Salame with red onion mayo and either yellow (French’s) mustard or sarache. But I am from the Left Coast and lived in B. C. and Seattle.
Generalizations about a country 4K miles wide and 1K miles top to bottem and 330M. pop. is bound to make people squirm like a worm.
I felt right at home with that part of Swedish life as described by Larsson.
Posted by turtle in California , 6 February 2015
The description of food in a book always makes it seem more real and interesting. Authors who really want to capture their audience will give them a good dose of foodporn from time to time. Enid Blyton knew that. So did J. K. Rowling, Edith Nesbit and Enid Bagnold. I don’t drink coffee myself, so found myself drinking a cup of tea along with them. And the sandwich is my favorite form of food.
Posted by Dragonreader in Alamogordo , 18 February 2015