VAXJO, Sweden (Reuters Life!) - Sweden, home to a "smorgasbord" that includes items such as meatballs and pickled herring, said on Monday it wants to put itself on the gourmet food map with a plan to become "Europe's new culinary nation."
The Nordic nation of 9 million gained fame in the kitchen throughout the 1970s and 1980s thanks in large part to the Muppet Show's Swedish chef, who tossed about pots and pans entertaining children and even adults with his nearly incomprehensible "Swenglish."
Now it wants to win more stars in the Michelin guide, boost food exports and create jobs by developing its food industry.
If it pulls off its culinary feat, Sweden said the number of food companies in Sweden would jump by 20 percent in just over a decade.
"We have a strong tourist trend -- we think it's a good idea to combine that with food because tourists eat a lot of food," Swedish Agriculture Minister Eskil Erlandsson told reporters after meeting with his EU counterparts in southern Sweden.
Erlandsson told Reuters his favorite food in Sweden is the lingonberry, a forest fruit common in Scandinavian cuisine.
"I put it on everything -- meat, and even fish," he said.