World Stamps

A world of food on Sweden’s stamps; local cuisine in Norden series: New Stamps of the World

May 3, 2021, 5 AM

By Denise McCarty

A hamburger represents American cuisine on a new stamp from Sweden.

The hamburger has the works on it, including cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, mayonnaise, and ketchup. Separate images of tomato, onion, and corn also are included in the design.

The stamp was issued March 17, one of five different designs in a booklet called Food in Sweden but picturing food from other parts of the world.

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The Postnord press release announcing the stamps includes a quote from Richard Tellstrom, a researcher at the Department of Restaurant and Culinary Arts at Orebro University: “It is possible to view the food depicted on the stamps in two ways — in part as our choice of what we want to eat and in part as an indication of how we pick up food cultures from others.

“Food culture is constantly evolving, and the trends are often taken from New York, London and Paris. One example of this is sushi, which we did not bring directly from Japan. This dish, which is so popular today, came to us in the 1980s via New York.”

Sushi is pictured on one of the stamps. Other food cultures represented on the stamps include Mexican, Italian, and Middle Eastern.

The Mexican cuisine stamp depicts a taco, a chili pepper, and slices of lime, avocado and onion.

The stamp for Italian cuisine features pasta being twirled around the tines of a fork. Other ingredients for a pasta dish, including a mushroom, mussel, cheese, tomato, and spice, also are illustrated.

Selected to appear in the design of the Middle Eastern cuisine stamp are shish kebab, stuffed grape leaves, and eggplant.

All of the stamps are nondenominated with the word “brev,” indicating that they pay the basic domestic letter rate. The booklet contains 10 stamps (five of each design).

Veronica Ballart Lilja created the illustrations for the stamps.

She also designed a coil stamp displaying typical Swedish food for the multination Norden series.

Every other year, the eight Nordic postal administrations of Aland, Denmark, Faroe, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden issue stamps on a common theme. The theme for 2016 is Nordic food culture.

The 13-krone Norden stamp from Sweden shows crisp bread, a slice of cheese, a hard boiled egg, a potato, chives, and herring.

Tellstrom called the crisp bread and cheese “a historic combination that reaches back to at least the time of the Vikings.”


Many of this year’s Norden stamps feature some type of seafood, especially fish.

For example, the 9kr stamp issued April 26 by Faroe reproduces a photograph of fish, strips of pilot whale and other meat hanging in a drying shed known as a “hjallur.”

The new-issue announcement calls the hjallur, “the Faroese variety of the pantry,” adding that it “serves both as cold storage and a setting for various forms of food preservation.”

Iceland shows fish and other local food ingredients on a nondenominated stamp issued Feb. 18.

According to Stamp News, a bulletin for collectors published by Iceland’s Posturinn, “The essence of the Icelandic kitchen is its focus on natural ingredients, fresh seasonal vegetables, fresh and processed fish.”

Oscar Bjarnason designed the stamp. Its is nondenominated, paying the rate for mail weighing up to 50 grams sent to European countries.

Denmark, Greenland, and Norway each issued two stamps and a souvenir sheet containing both stamps. The issue dates were Jan. 4,  March 12, and April 15, respectively.

The 8kr stamps from Denmark picture two open-faced sandwiches, both with fish.

One is called stjerneskud, which translates to shooting star. Some of its ingredients are shown on the stamp, and others are listed in the lower left of the design. They include plaice (a type of flounder), bread, prawns, mayonnaise, caviar, asparagus, and a slice of lemon.

The other stamp features sol over Gudhjem (sunshine on Gudhjem), a dish with smoked herring, a raw egg yoke, chives, and rye bread. 

This dish originated on the island of Bornholm, and the newspaper shown in the background of the stamp design includes a description of this lunch dish in Danish and in the island’s local dialect.

Jakob Monefeldt designed the Denmark stamps and souvenir sheet.

Bolatta Silis-Hoegh created the designs for the 12kr and 13.50kr stamps from Greenland. 

In Greenland Collector, published by Post Greenland, the designer said of the seafood shown on the stamps: “The small ammassak come to Greenland’s waters in large schools throughout the year and may be eaten cooked or dried and I like to dip the tit bits stored in seal fat.

“Whale mattak is the greatest delicacy in Greenland. It is packed with, inter alia, Vitamin C and tastes like an avocado but is, inversely, very tough. The stamp features mattak from a narwhal.”

Photographs of dishes from two restaurants are pictured on Norway’s 14kr Norden stamps: Maaemo in Oslo, and on aboard a Hurtigruten passenger ship.

The two stamps were unveiled at Maaemo.

On its website, Maaemo describes its menu as a “journey through the Norwegian landscape.” The stamp shows langoustine on spruce, and the selvage of the souvenir sheet shows the view of Oslo from one of the restaurant’s tables.

The selvage also depicts one of Hurtigruten’s ships, Polarlys, traveling along Norway’s coast, and its menu is represented on the stamp by Atlantic cod on beetroot barley risotto.

Kristin Granli designed the stamps and souvenir sheet, using photographs by Mette Randem, Bandar Abdul-Jauwad, and Orjan Bertelsen.

The stamps from Finland and Aland are not related to seafood.

Finland’s nondenominated first-class stamp issued Jan. 22 depicts a tray of freshly baked Karelian meat pies. In announcing the stamp, Finland’s Posti said, “The Karelian pasty is a traditional baked product familiar to all Finns, suitable for both everyday life and festive moments.”

And, for the final course, Aland features dessert on its nondenominated international-rate stamp issued March 18.

Prepared by Aland chef Michael Bjorklund, the dessert combines parfait glace, vanilla ice cream, chocolate, and frost-bitten buckthorn berries.

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