Tuesday, 1 March 2016

It's the season... of semla

Around the same time I arrived in Sweden, so did something else: the semla.

Semla, as it is eaten here, is a pastry spiced with cardamom and filled with an almond mixture and whipped cream. Traditionally, semla was only eaten on Fettisdag (Shrove Tuesday), but these days semlor are available almost all winter. During my first lunch break at Bonniers Konsthall the whole conversation revolved around semla. Every bakery, tearoom and shop has semlor in the window and there are plenty of posters and advertisements featuring the semla all over town. On Fettisdag I saw queues outside the bakeries that would have made the average amusement park jealous.

Swedes surely seem to love their pastries and baked goods. Besides semlor, a wide range of cakes, pastries, chocolates and cookies can be found. I have tasted some really scrumptious cakes so far, though I did have to get used to the huge amounts of frosting and vanilla sauce that often come with it. I don't think it's just about the taste though. It's everything that comes with the pastry. I have noticed that dishes here are often very strongly connected to events, traditions, habits, emotions and memories. There is food for Cosy Friday nights and Saturdays are candy days. Fettisdag comes with semla and Saint Lucy's Day has lussekatten.

Another dish that has a lot of emotions connected to it, is fruktsoppa - fruit soup. There are many different variants, my favourite being rosehip soup. It's the kind of dish you'd get as a child when you weren't feeling too well, and it truly makes for good comfort food. You can eat it warm, with almond biscuits in it, but also cold or iced. You can combine it with cream or ice cream, but I haven't tried this yet.

And then there are the bananas. I didn't notice at first, but a friend pointed out that Swedes seem to be eating a lot of them: as a snack, but also combined with oatmeal for breakfast, or even with a spicy rice dish, in a tomato sauce, in a stew... or on pizza. The first time I saw someone slice a banana on top of a bowl of curry I thought she must have been mistaking it for something else. However, I am at this point almost convinced to try it myself. So who knows, I might be sharing my favourite banana recipes with you soon.

Vi ses


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