Folks who go to the annual St. Lucia Festival in Sanford have a chance to sample some Florida-pioneer culinary treats. (In 2013, it’s December 14; see sanfordstlucia.com.)
I’m not talking grits and gator nuggets – not this time.
Think Swedish coffee, pickled herring, and lingonberries. And glögg (a beverage), cabbage rolls, meatballs, brown beans, maybe something called Jansson’s temptation, a variety of cakes and cookies, and Swedish pickles.
Festival coordinator Teri Patterson once told me she is especially fond of the pickles. “You just can’t beat a breakfast buffet that includes Swedish pickles, Swedish coffee and a few Swedish cookies,” she said.
But Patterson’s heritage as the descendant of Swedish immigrants means a lot more to her than good eating. With fellow historians Charlie Carlson and Christine Kinlaw-Best, she has written several publications for the Sanford Historical Society on the area’s Swedish heritage, including “The Swedish History of Seminole County.”
“As far back as I can recall I always enjoyed listening to my family’s stories,” Patterson wrote.
“Many were collected and told so beautifully by my grand-aunt Olga Vihlen Hunter. “In each family there seems to be a person who gathers the facts about their ancestors. These facts remind us of their hardships and successes that have contributed to who we are today.”
Patterson’s great-grandfather came from Sweden to America and “settled among Swedes in the community of New Upsala,” now in Sanford.
“Over the years this Swedish community has mostly disappeared, . . . but a few remaining historical places remind us of their pioneering past,” she writes.
“These New Upsala Swedes played a major role in developing Central Florida’s great citrus industry.”