"The food was on the table."
Translation:Maten stod på bordet.
I've removed fanns from the list of things that could show up in the multiple choice questions. I've left it as an accepted answer though because I think it's quite possible as a sentence. It somehow makes the sentence more about the whereabouts of the food. Like, maybe we were looking for the food or we didn't expect it to be on the table – I don't think I can describe the exact shade of meaning, but I could certainly say that. Still, Maten stod på bordet is the most normal, neutral way of saying it.
You have right that the verb 'står' (past tense 'stod') normally only works for things that litteraly stand. But 'står' is also a frequent used word which can have a lot of meanings depending of the context (For example: Det står i tidningen = It says so in the newspaper).
In this case, I think that the sentence (with 'stod') not only says that the food existed or was on the table, but also indicates that it was soon time to eat; And I do not think that you can make that sense or association only by using 'fanns' or 'var'.
Note: I am not native Swedish but Danish-speaking, but we have nearly the same phrases and words in Danish.
That's right. I also think one should remember that what important is that a thing is perceived to be standing. Swedish actually considers the food to be standing. It's the same with plates: Tallrikarna stod på bordet. 'The plates were on the table'. If the plates or the food ligger (are lying) on the table, that means that the plates are broken, the food is scattered around in a disorderly fashion, or something like that.
Plates have an 'up' and 'down', if you look at them closely, they aren't actually totally flat. When you put food on the table, you're usually talking about things that have up and down too. You probably don't mean that you put the stew and potatoes right onto the table (if you do, feel free to use lägga and ligger) but that you put some plates and/or bowls with food in them on the table, in a proper upright fashion.