SWEDEN – TRUE NORTH

Copenhagen airport, designed 1998 by Vilhelm Lauritzen.

The last time the world warmed up, early nomadic hunters followed the reindeer herds north to what is now, Sweden. I had an easier time of it, flying from Dublin to Sweden via the strange wing-shaped Copenhagen Airport.

Gothenburg (city of Goths), Sweden.

Ceiling in Röhsska Museum of Decorative Art and Design, Gothenburg.

Everyone says Sweden is on their list to visit, but somehow, it’s never at the top of their list. Why not? Just dress for a ski resort and come visit Thor and Odin, Loki and Freya this December. You already know a lot of Swedish people. You know ABBA, Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Ingmar Bergman, Max von Sydow, August Strinberg, Astrid Lungren (“Pippi Longstocking”), Björn Borg, Dag Hammarskjöld (U.N.) and even Alfred Nobel. Probably, the most important Swede you know is Anders Celsius (1701-1744). Every morning in Europe I check the weather report and am flummoxed by the temperature scale he created. Did you know the only countries in the world who still use Fahrenheit’s temperature scale are the U.S., Caymen Islands and Belize? And that’s because…fill in the blank; I have no idea. Anyway, you know Victor Hasselblad?  Here he is showing off one of his favorite cameras to my husband, Waldemar.

 Sweden, once most famous for her timber and shipbuilding industries, is known today for Volvo, Saab, Ericsson, IKEA, H&M, and the funny way they talk.

A lot of their words end in FART.
You guessed right if you said that thing was left over from shipbuilding.
They’re big on Christmas candy here; they’re also big on plastic wrap.
RELEASE THOSE LITTLE PIGGIES, NOW!
Lost in translation…
Scary drunk Christmas dolls.

The Vikings here eat high on the food chain with an emphasis on reindeer (I know, I know, Santa and Rudolph, etc.) and seafood, since this is a huge port town. Then, again, our hotel offers 12 different kinds of breads and crackers at the breakfast buffet, which indicates how much the Swedes love their carbs, too.  It goes without saying that potatoes are the vegetable of choice. So, if you’re craving a falafel, a rotisserie chicken, or a big insalata mista, you might as well head south. Yesterday, at the busy Saluhallen, the indoor food market, this is the modest picnic we chose for ourselves.

Swedish crackerbread, Swedish gingersnaps, red cabbage slaw, chopped beets, French Langres cheese, Italian Pecorino cheese and Myrtille Sauvage (wild blueberry) jam from France.

The Blue Guide says the first Swedish cookbook was published in 1650, but nobody bothered to pay any attention to cookbooks until the 19th century. Today, the finest local food is found in restaurants run by young energetic foodies who devise their own recipes.  We loved  MAGNUS & MAGNUS.

This surf & turf is lobster and pork belly. It was divine, if not exactly for my people.
Duck breast sits on a hash of duck confit and cabbage, accompanied by apple and potato. Regional ingredients can be sublime in the right hands.
Take a brownie, place it under a steam roller, then drop a scoop of ice cream on it. It tastes a lot better than that brownie I sat on in my car.

Christmas is a big event in this Lutheran country. We wandered over to Göteborgs Domkyrka, the main cathedral, and were awed by the annual Julkonsert, Christmas Concert. Scroll down to the video clip to see a young lady wearing a lovely live candle hat.

H A P P Y  H O L I D A Y S  F R O M  S W E D E N!

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