Nov 172015


On this date in 1810 Sweden was forced by Napoleon to declare war on Britain, but the so-called Anglo-Swedish War was a completely bloodless war because neither “belligerent” wanted it. They had been allies and trading partners and wanted to keep it that way. So the “war” existed on paper only. That’s the kind of war I can get behind 100%. Since the “war” did not happen I cannot present images. Instead I’ll intersperse some images of Swedish dishes that Brits might like.


During the Napoleonic Wars until 1810, Sweden and the United Kingdom were allies in the war against Napoleon. As a result of Sweden’s defeat in the Finnish War and the Pomeranian War, and the following Treaty of Fredrikshamn and Treaty of Paris, Sweden was forced to declare war on the United Kingdom. Britain was still not hindered in stationing ships at the Swedish island of Hanö and trade with the Baltic states.


The Treaty of Paris, concluded on 6 January 1810, forced Sweden to join the Continental System, a trade embargo against Great Britain. Since Great Britain was Sweden’s biggest trade partner this caused economic difficulties, and trade continued to take place through smuggling. On 13 November 1810 France delivered an ultimatum to the Swedish government demanding that within five days Sweden:

Seize all British ships in Swedish ports,

Seize all British products in Sweden.

France and its allies threatened to declare war against Sweden if it did not meet the French demands. So, on 17 November the Swedish government declared war against Great Britain.


No acts of war occurred during the conflict, but Britain stationed boats in Hanö, which had been invaded. Sweden didn’t try to hinder the occupation as it supported the continued trade. Nevertheless, fearing the possibility of a British invasion, the Swedish government began to conscript more farmers into military service. This led to the only bloodshed during the war on 15 June 1811, when Major-General Hampus Mörner with 140 men acted to disperse a group of farmers in Klågerup in Scania who objected to the conscription policy. In the Klågerup riots, Mörner’s soldiers killed 30 farmers. But this was internal only, and not aggression against Britain.


The Swedish Crown Prince Charles August had died on 28 May 1810, and on 21 August 1810, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was elected crown prince of Sweden. Though he was only the Crown Prince and technically subservient to the King, he was de facto ruler of Sweden due to the deteriorating health and disinterest of King Charles XIII. Under Bernadotte’s rule, Sweden’s relationship with France deteriorated. When France occupied Swedish Pomerania and the island of Rügen in 1812, Sweden sought peace with Great Britain.

After long negotiations, the Treaty of Orebro was signed on 18 July 1812. On the same day and at the same place, Britain and Russia signed a peace treaty bringing the Anglo–Russian War of 1807–1812 to an end and also the Anglo-Swedish “War.”

I think Swedish meatballs makes a suitable Anglo-Swedish dish to celebrate the non-war. Swedish meatballs are better known in the U.S. than Britain, largely because meatballs in general are less common in Britain than the U.S. I’ll give a recipe for you but the idea is very basic (as is Swedish cooking in general). Make meatballs with a mix of ground veal and pork. Fry them and serve them with a creamed beef gravy. They are traditionally served with lingonberries or lingonberry preserve, slices of salted cucumber, and mashed potato. It’s best to serve them smothered in gravy, but have more gravy on hand for guests to help themselves.


Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs)



4 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
4 tbsp milk
225 g/8 oz ground pork
225 g/8 oz ground veal (or beef)
2 tbsp grated (not chopped) onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and freshly ground pepper

butter for frying


250 ml/1 cup beef stock
2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch), mixed with a little water
freshly ground black pepper
200 ml/¾ cup single cream


Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk in a large mixing bowl for about 5 minutes.

Add the meat, grated onion, egg, and salt and pepper to taste. I always grate onions for meatballs, hamburgers, etc. because grating brings out the onion taste more. Mix everything with your hands (preferably), or a wooden spoon, until everything is evenly mixed.

Take a tablespoon of the mixture and roll it with your hands until it is round. Repeat until you have about 30 meatballs. They should be quite small.

Heat a tablespoon of butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Do not let it brown. Sauté the meatballs in batches, browning them all over by shaking the pan repeatedly, then turning the heat down to let them cook all the way through. Keep them warm.

Add the stock and corn flour mixture to the skillet. Turn up the heat and simmer the gravy until it has thickened and smooth. I usually use a whisk for this step. Add the cream plus salt and pepper to taste, and warm through.

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