It had been ten years since Christer Larsson, chef-owner of Christer’s restaurant in New York City, had returned to his home in Vetlanda, Sweden, for Christmas. When he arrived for the holiday in 1996, however, little had changed. Early preparations for Christmas Eve lunch were under way, with the ham already simmered, glazed, and baked—and, as always, the broth stored on the back porch. The Larssons’ favorite part of the midday meal begins when the broth is returned to the stove for doppa i grytan, or dip-in-pot. Pieces of anise-flavored rye bread are lowered into the simmering liquid (Christer likes to dip first, while the broth is still rich with fat), and the softened bread is spooned onto plates and covered with slices of sweet baked ham.

Like glogg, doppa i grytan is a tradition that reconnects Swedes with Christmases past.