In Midsommar, this summer’s sunniest and most Scandinavian horror movie, the plot is centered around a once-every-90-years festival, during which there is not one, not two, but nine feasts. If you haven’t yet seen the movie, turn back now because this will be a spoiler, but the feasts held by the Hårga are not exactly the traditional celebration of glutton, prosperity, and consumerism. As viewers learn, they are also a time when people are lured into the clutch of a murderous pagan cult that has no second thoughts about human sacrifice. But, also, they look delicious, and since I saw the movie a couple weeks ago, I haven’t stopped thinking about the fact that — even knowing my hosts would view me as an offering — I would like to eat them.
Leaving the theater, I also came away with other feelings and questions: There was my renewed conviction that no one should go outside, a desire to investigate whether New Nordic cuisine is an elaborate plot to increase tourism and therefore the pool of potential human sacrifices, and, at first, a conviction that I would continue to spend my summer vacations in the tri-state and, like, Vermont instead of Sweden, even if I were invited by a nice dude who looks like he DJs in a fashion hoodie.
But then I think about the actual food and I’m like, yeah, maybe I would go to Sweden for this. I can’t help it, because of how much attention was paid to the styling of those feasts and creating convincingly realistic spreads. (Just think about all the ways in which you could neg a friend who got a seat at one of Faviken’s last nights!)
The feasts are essential to the narrative (again, there are nine of them!), and — with the goats and chicken coop-slash-body-storage-facility and sun-dabbled light — could be the subject of some bizarro Chef’s Table episode. Even the hallucinogenic mushrooms look to have been meticulously chosen by their strong visual appeal.
The food was styled by Zoe Hegedus, a chef from Hungary (where the movie was filmed), who made a point of not making it look new Nordic style, but similarly wanted “a lot of Scandanavian cooking techniques” to preserve the food. It was, she says, “Important to stay rustic and raw, really raw.” In other words: Noma, but actually cult.
Even despite the aperitif of family tragedy that befalls Dani (played by Florence Pugh) and the scary hallucinations that the character experiences after arriving in Sweden and taking ‘shrooms, you can’t help but hear your stomach rumble a little for the food on the table during the first feast.
I would like to get my hands on some of those stemmed goblets — which look like something a duke would drink from while wearing a frock and talking about the local farmers — in which everyone is served a juicy looking beer. I’d like to ask the commune folks where they get their herring, because the one they insist that Dani slurp down (much to her disgust) looks to be fit for Russ & Daughter’s. There are little metal pots with bespoke herbs and what look like simply prepared beets and other vegetables sticking out, the sort of thing that would kill with foraging fans on Instagram.
Plus: there are shots! And it’s aquavit, so of course it’s more charming than American shots. I might also enjoy being given a small glass of a tea that’s fleshy and yellow, like a Nebula, and that I could would absolutely see being served at Aska? And is there a better summer-weekend dinner idea than gathering a bunch of friends around a table, everyone wearing flower crowns, with a hulking cut of goat as the centerpiece? Let’s dig in!
Also can we please talk about the movie’s tiny, cute little meat pies? The scene I’ve thought about the most, unfortunately, is when those are being prepared: You see them rolling out the dough and splaying it across the table in a way that I, for one, couldn’t help but associate with the movie’s most brutal instance of fleshy bloody horror. But then they eat those little baby pastries, and they look straight out of a Fergus Henderson cookbook (except for one small issue that we don’t need to get into here, but which would nevertheless raise serious concerns with a local health department). All of this they just give you free — or, well, the small price of possibly being chosen to be used as a blood eagle.
Yes, there were times when I thought, are we going to find out they are eating these people? But I suppose what I’m getting at here is that summer is only so long, and do you really want to spend it going, yet again, to some boring beach town where you’ll eat fried clams and mediocre, probably burnt beach hamburgers? Just imagine how you would feel if you were asked, by a friend, “do you want to go to Jersey shore, or do you want to come with me to my rural commune in this gorgeous place that you didn’t know existed?”
It sounds like the summer-vacation opportunity of a lifetime.
Even if the end result of these feasts doesn’t live up to the initial promise and expectation, is that really any different than a typical summer vacation? Sure, two weeks in a lake cabin in rural Maine sounds amazing. Then, somewhere around the fifth day, when the flies are fighting with you and you just wish you could get some decent cell-phone service, you start to wonder if maybe this trip wasn’t a great idea after all. (Also, was that scream in the near distance?) But then again, no matter how badly it ends, you still can’t help but look back fondly on it all because sometimes it’s just nice to get out of the city and eat some goat with your friends, you know?