Kalmar Castle
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Dining With Swedish Royals at Kalmar Castle
Welcome to dinner in Grey Hall at Kalmar Castle in the Swedish province of Småland. It's 1586 and the table is set for an Easter feast hosted by King Gustav Vasa. His whole dysfunctional family is in town, including two squabbling sons, Erik XIV and Johan III—the latter suspected of poisoning his older brother in a successful coup that won him the throne. Giant birds preside over the table, but they're for decoration, not eating. The spread groans with fish pies, salmon, chopped pike shaped like pears, bowls of eggs, and rice pudding studded with walnuts. The abundance of fish is for Erik's wife Katarzyna Jagiellonka, a Polish Catholic whose marriage to her scheming husband united Sweden, Poland and Lithuania into a grand empire. She was abstaining from meat during the holiest of Christian holidays. Forks, which resembled the devil's pitchfork in the 16th century, were not used for this Easter dinner. Instead, the Swedish royals used spoons, knives and hands to consume the bounty. At an adjacent table, a lavish dessert selection includes marzipan and other sweets flavored with exotic herbs and spices. The dinner is a reconstruction based on German traveler Samuel Kiechel's diary entries, as well as preserved lists of purchases and menus from the 16th century.
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