Perhaps you already know about this restaurant in Jämtland, Sweden? I was first introduced to Magnus Nilsson courtesy of BBC4's 'the Food Programme'. I can't explain why, of all of the things I have learned from the Food Programme, this is what I've become obsessed with.
Is it that Fäviken doesn't look so different from home?
Maybe it's my Viking roots? That's a good reason.
Or maybe it's just because I would love to serve a plate that looks like this?
I know part of it is that I would love to have the knowledge of my environment that Magnus and his team have. I love that they only use what can be obtained in a 200km radius (except some seasoning and sugar, I believe).
I know that extreme cuisine is A Thing right now but from all of my Fäviken reading and listening and watching, I feel that this endeavour to create world class food in a place that is so far outside of what most would consider agricultural feels like something much richer than an attempt to pander to the masses. Not only is Fäviken known for that world class food, there is a conserted effort to preserve the old ways and share that knowledge. It wasn't that long ago that people had to feed themselves year 'round without the benefit of shops or electricity. Because the team at Fäviken have taken on this challenge, they're preserving (yes, haha) a whole body of knowledge that might otherwise be lost. It is such important work historically, and anthropologically. How many of us are having to re-learn, re-figure out, re-invent what came easily to our Grandparents because it was just part of life for them? Not so for us.
The other interesting thing for me about Fäviken is that there is no effort to trade in on the successes they have had. It hasn't gone from a 12 or 14 seat place to a 60 seat place. There isn't Fäviken South where the challenge would be so much less. They just continue on, doing what they believe in.
The other thing that indicates this is more than just a trend to cash in on is the fact that Nilsson and family live out there and recently (or recently-ish) Nilsson and family raised and butchered his own flock of sheep. The team at Fäviken are working hard to keep the old ways alive. Rather than just ordering carrots or greens from further away, they not only prepare the food to be eaten that day, they're constantly trying to uncover and try to relearn the old ways of preserving. They use wilted carrots because that's what you have in sand or dirt in your root cellar at this time of year. They're eating old dairy cows aged for months to make them tender. They're pickling and drying and altering the menu to suit the seasons.
These concepts are just so important on so many levels - from understanding our food, to preserving the old ways of doing things, and resepcting all of the life on our plate. Perhaps having Fäviken gaining such fame and respect in the culinary world will help to propell this way of thinking about what we eat and how we make it out of the margins and into the mainstream?