Happiness = poutine, lingonberries, and, uh, stroopwafel?

By Max Bonem
May 10, 2018

There are few experiences in life that contribute more to personal happiness than eating delicious food. Of course, a nation's happiness is not measured on food alone. However, with the release of the 2017 World Happiness Report, we decided to take a look at what people are eating in the countries ranking at the top of the list.

Here's a look at the best food found in each of the world's 10 happiest countries. 

Norway - Smoked Salmon/Gravlaks

Home to some of the best smoked salmon in world, the ubiquitous fish is a staple of the Norwegian diet and one of the major reasons for Norway's top ranking (we're assuming). Although gravlaks, which translates to "buried salmon," isn't technically smoked, it is cured in a mix of salt, sugar and dill for 24 hours, giving it the distinct flavor that is synonymous with the world's happiest country.

Denmark - Smørrebrød

There are open faced sandwiches and then there are smørrebrød, Denmark's signature lunch staple. The name of the sandwich itself comes from the words for butter (smør) and bread (brød), two ingredients that create the base for any and all smørrebrød you might come across in Denmark. The sandwiches themselves are designed to look as good as they taste and common toppings might include local cheese, smoked fish or pickled vegetables. 

Iceland - Hot Dogs

You might not believe it, but Iceland takes hot dogs very seriously. In a country where the options for prepared food items can often times be severely limited, the local hot dog stand can be a god send for locals and visitors alike. The sausages themselves are made with a blend of lamb, pork and beef and have natural casings, offering that classic snap missing from most mass produced hot dogs found elsewhere. Besides the quality though, it's the toppings that make the Icelandic hot dog so good, including ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onions, raw onions and a remoulade sauce that is made with mayo and sweet relish.

Switzerland - Raclette

We're a little surprised that Switzerland didn't land the number one on the world's happiest list since one of their most famous foods, raclette, is literally cheese that you grill until it melts and then scrape onto your plate. Traditionally served with boiled potatoes, pickled vegetables and charcuterie, raclette is just one more reason for Swiss happiness, along with relaxed banking laws and Roger Federer, of course. 

Finland - Karelian Pasties

Finland is a cold, dark country stuck uncomfortably close to Russia, so how did they end up being named the fifth happiest country on Earth? the Karelian pasty, the Fins' take on the elongated, open-faced hand pie, might have had something to do with it. Traditionally made with a rye or wheat crust, karelian pasties are filled with rice or mashed potato and then covered with a mix of egg and butter (munavoi) while still hot. If there's one Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) staple that brings a smile to any and all Fins, it's definitely Karelian pasties. 

Netherlands - Stroopwafel

Although there are a number of reasons that might be cause for Dutch happiness, including their love of canals and tulips, relaxed stances on drugs and sex and the number of windmills found in the countryside, we think stroopwafel might have something to do with it as well. The cookies, which originated in Gouda, a city known for other delicious reasons, consist of a thin layer of caramel-like syrup sandwiched between two wafers. In The Netherlands, stroopwafels are traditionally accompanied by coffee or tea and served on top of mugs, where the cookies are left to sit and soften for a few moments before being devoured.

Canada - Poutine

Canada, our friendly neighbors to the north, are known for many things besides their love of hockey and, ya know, overall openness and respect towards every person they ever meet. However, it is poutine, the Quebecois gift that keeps on giving, that the happiest country in North America has become so well-known for. Poutine is simple, a bead of french fries smothered in fresh cheese curds and brown gravy. However, much like pizza or burgers or tacos, you can find poutine with every topping imaginable, most often accompanied by an enthused customer who may or may not have had a few Molsons prior.

New Zealand - Hand Pies

One of the great pleasures of touring through New Zealand's two islands are the roadside bakeries that dot the landscape. Although you can expect to find any number of tasty pastries in a proper Kiwi bakery, hand pies are the most popular and most beloved. Originally brought over by the British, hand pies are the perfect breakfast or lunch on the go and with fillings ranging from bacon and egg to mince beef and cheese to curry chicken, the number of pies to try can only be outmatched by the range of New Zealand's varied landscape itself. 

Australia - Tim Tams

Talk to any Australian expat about foods they miss from home and Tim Tams will undoubtedly be brought up. The classic Aussie cookie, which consists of two malted biscuits separated by a light chocolate cream filling and coated in a thin layer of chocolate, has been around since the mid-1960s and invokes nostalgia in Aussies young and old. When serving as dessert to a Coat of Arms burger, there may be no more legendary Australian meal imaginable.

Sweden - Meatballs and Lingonberries

Sweden, creators of Ikea, Volvo and the subject of mass culinary ridicule from the hands and mouth of a muppet since the 1970s, loves its meatballs, which could certainly explain why the country's inhabitants are so happy all the time. In particular, the classic combination of Swedish meatballs and lingonberries, a fruit that tastes similar to cranberries and is often times made into jam, can be found on dinner tables across the country. Even as Sweden becomes a destination for forward-thinking Nordic cuisines, Swedes will continue raising their spirits through the long cold winters with the help of meatballs and lingonberries. And maybe some encouraging words from the Swedish Chef.

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