Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fat Tuesday

A year ago today, I was in Sweden. It was actually quite a fortuitous time to have been there because a storm had just passed through and covered the countryside in beautiful snow. Not much unlike here, our current home. However, the real reason it was great to have been in Sweden on Fat Tuesday, or I believe it's more commonly known as Shrove Tuesday there, is because I got to be introduced to their traditional Fat Tuesday fare--you know me and food!

So where New Orleanians have their King Cake and Hawaii Portuguese have their Malasadas, my hosts in Orebro were excited to share their Semla.

Semla is this wonderfully soft yeasty bun flecked with cardamom in the dough. It was a surprising and unusual flavor but mostly because it was difficult to identify at first bite and it was quite faint-not strong or overwhelming at all. Here's the best part:

They scoop out the middle, mix the crumbs with some milk and almond paste, put it back inside the bun, pipe some lovely fresh whipped cream and top it off with the 'cap' of the bun.

Semla is sometimes even served in a bowl of steaming milk. I purchased this second semla at the airport while waiting to board the plane and it was fabulous with a cup of strong, black, Swedish coffee (which by-the-way, is so well protected you cannot import, mail, or ship other coffee to Sweden without permission). I still dream about Semla a year later. In fact, I wanted this post to be about making Semla but my house is too cold to properly rise any yeast dough without extreme effort so you just get to dream with me.

Since we're on the topic of food and Sweden, I was only there for literally 30 hours. So I cannot review Sweden and all it's glory but it doesn't seem to have a strong cultural identity surrounding food. Their fare is rather simple (which I really do like) but there was nothing that really stuck out. This is what I had for dinner one night and this was as close as I could get to Swedish food:

I opted for chopped steak (essentially salisbury steak or hamburger steak) instead of Swedish meatballs since I can get that IKEA (hahahaa....) and the lingonberry sauce was quite good. They seem to like to drink beer with every meal, like any other European country, I suppose, and they serve boiled potatoes as their primary starch.

On the topic of food, some of you might get a kick out of this--look what I found in the middle of the town square:

Weight Watchers in Orebro!

I did get to see the town's castle and take a tour but I won't bore you with all the pictures. It did look lovely covered in snow though.
It was complete with a moat and everything!

The people were very friendly and many could speak enough English to explain to the dumb American girl how to find her hotel, and how much money she was holding, and what would be best to eat at the hotel bar. I would love to go back and visit during summer where the countryside is said to be the most stunning.

Hope you're having a happy Fat Tuesday in your corner of the world!

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