Something Swedish


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Glad Påsk! Happy Easter!

Sitting on the train heading up to Värnamo to spend the holiday with my in-laws we were approached by a little girl. Being accustomed to panhandling on the subway in NYC, I averted my eyes, hoping my husband would deal with it and send her away. When a meek gentle voice wished us “Glad Påsk” I saw that the girl was dressed as an Easter Witch with a green apron and scarf, covered in painted-on freckles. She was the daughter of the train conductor, handing out free chocolate Easter egg candies to all the passengers.

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Easter in Sweden is all about the candy, eggs, and witches. Instead of Easter baskets, candy is kept in large paper Easter eggs:

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The three main decorations of Easter are these oversized decorated Easter eggs, colorful feathers, and witches on broomsticks.

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Wondering why Easter in Sweden has so many witches? Easter was believed to be the day when the witches would fly to the blue mountain and dance with the devil. It was common to  close the windows and light fires so the witches wouldn’t land on near your house. Nowadays, Swedish Easter witches are kids walking from house to house dressed in scarfs and rags with a copper teapot collecting treats from neighbors in exchange for drawings.

This year I even found devil chickens to accompany my Easter witch:

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Freaky. Thankfully the cute type are still around:

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And then we have the edible type that my husband expertly crafted:

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Behind the scenes, making of:

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As with every Swedish Holiday, the smörgåsbord is beautiful and delicious:

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With a little extra eggs (Hard and soft boiled)  on the table, Påskmust (Easter soda) and schnaps. it is an Easter meal.

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We rounded the night off with some monopoly…guess who won!?

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Hope everyone had a great holiday!!

Read about last years Easter Here!

Lösgodis – Loose Candy

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In the U.S we have a certain image of Swedish people. Tall, blonde, beautiful, and built like Norse Gods/Goddesses. Upon my arrival here I learned that resisting the temptation of sweets was not their secret. Did you know that Sweden eats the most loose candy per capita in the world? It is also the largest importer of candy in the world. (Think about there only being around 10 million people in Sweden- that’s about the total population of New York City) The amount of loose candy eaten in Sweden is said to make up for 4% of the country’s total sugar consumption!

I know I have talked a lot about Swedish pastries and treats (Here, here, here, here, and here), and true to both American and Swedish form I have eaten my fair share of these delicious baked goods. However! This Swedish candy culture has never passed my lips. That’s right. I have not fallen weak to the loose candy craze! I have not picked up a shovel and filled a colorful paper bag*  with anything my sweet tooth desires. I really am proud of myself because no matter what type of store you step foot in, small or large, food or none, you are met with this: (*similar to a bag or bucket of popcorn from the movie  theater, eaten with absent yet impressive speed)

This is not a candy store but a place to buy movies. The Lösgodis take up about 1/4 of this store while the rest is filled with DVDs and blue-ray movies to buy. Maybe a movie store is a bad example, as there is usually some (small) selection of treats, but that pales in comparison. The concept of loose goodies is not an unfamiliar one, but never to such a extent unless it was an actual candy store. Even then, the loose candy selection would only make up for a rather small part.

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Americans are known for overeating unhealthy food and having a heavy sweet tooth, so I was caught off guard when I saw such quantities of candy in a seemingly health conscious country.

This candy craze is so integrated into the Swedish culture that there is even such a tradition as “Lördagsgodis” which means Saturday Candy. In the 1950′s  it was recommended by the Board of Health to limit children’s candy intake to once a week instead of daily in an effort to slow down tooth decay. I have read on a few blogs of attempts to get their children off of the candy by giving them money on Saturdays instead of the sweet treats. It seems there is almost no getting around having a candy-filled child in Sweden, as the Lösgodis are everywhere and all the other kids are eating them.

It is not only the children that love Lösgodis. I have seen bags of Lösgodis given as presents (to adults) and met with excitement- Swedes do love their candy. Even if they didn’t pick it themselves, they are sure to enjoy what ever is inside because all of the candy is classic.

Classic to Swedes. This past weekend my husbands nephew had some Lösgodis that we were picking from and I was embarrassed to admit that I didn’t like any of them. To the point that I had to spit them out. The family laughed and was shocked because they are all beloved classic flavors. Two types of favorites I have noticed are marshmallow candies and salty black liquorice. There is also a selection of hard candies, coated candies, gummy, caramel, and chocolate.

To be honest I am a bit skeptical to even try any Lösgodis because I have not yet tasted any Swedish candy that suits my Americanized taste buds. I’ve been told that the difference is that Americans prefer a more sugary and sweeter taste, which seems true. Of course I have only tried a very small fraction of the selection, so I am not yet a complete candy outcast.

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This Weekend: “Den gångna helgen”

Spending three days in a row with new friends really makes you realize that you are adjusting to your new life a lot easier and smoother. I know a lot of people would love the opportunity to help meld into a new culture and language without feeling so alienated and alone. On Thursday I was invited for some shopping and fika. We planned a small surprise birthday party for one of the girls, went searching for a present and talked about the plan over cups of coffees and tea. I asked if there would be decorations or something of the sort, not realizing it would only be the four of us. I felt included, like a part of the group. The next day we showed up at her door and surprised her with presents, wine, and cake. Knowing that they are all making a small sacrifice to their comfort level by needing to speak in their second language  to accommodate when I am with them really makes me feel special to be involved. It also gives me an extra motivation to learn Swedish even faster. I love spending time and going out with the hubby but it’s also a great feeling to know I can comfortably socialize on my own so soon after moving to a new country.

It was a fun night out filled with chatting, drinking, & laughing. Hubby and I were invited along to go to Ikea the next day with the birthday girl and her fiance. (For those who aren’t aware, Ikea is actually Swedish, and if you are in the states its a decent place to get Swedish meatballs and lingonberry) The trip is an hour each way and we spent quite a few hours exploring the store (I’m a huge sucker for house items). It was pointed out to me that I didn’t take any photos of Ikea, and I explained that I was trying to behave and refrain from being an obnoxious blogger in front of new people.  And so the photo here was taken in June of 2011, the first time “discovering” a Swedish Ikea, although we only ate lunch there and did not shop, unlike yesterday:

Along with two large bags of random things mostly for the kitchen, we bought a kitchen side table/counter/shelving unit named “Bekväm” which translates into “comfortable.” Reminds me of how confused people back home are when they pick out furniture from Ikea, not understanding what they are ordering, how to pronounce it, or why each item is named something so strange. When we were (finally) done in Ikea the four of us went to the food court in the mall near by and desperately searched for food. We found a food court and one of the choices caught my husbands eye:

Hubby has been on the hunt for a good tasting juicy burger in Sweden ever since he started coming to New York, so he will never pass up on a new place to try a new burger, especially if it claims to be American. He went for a double bacon cheese burger and I explored their version of pulled pork. The wait time for our food was the same as being in a real restaurant, so we thought the food would be of good quality. It was nothing special, edible and maybe “good” but not American by any standards. He said it was the same dry burger with the same seasonings as all other Swedish burgers. While eating I was asked something with a hint of hesitation, “Have you ever had…a…creme ball?” Realizing that the hesitation came from translating the name, I asked hubby and he confirmed that I have not. We all wandered to the store and  “oooh’ed” and “aaahh’ed” at the selection. Turns out it is the first store dedicated to “Gräddbulle” in the world, hence the confusion over never seeing one before.

Depending on where  in Sweden you are, these are otherise known as

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skumboll” (foamball). In Skåne, which is Southern Sweden, they are called Gräddbulle, which directly translates to creme bun but they are actually creme balls. Inside each chocolatey treat is a rich creamy and foamy whipped gelatin atop a biscuit base. This store, “Gräddbullerian” specializes in different flavors, such as banana, mint, popular Swedish candies, or white chocolate, where as the original is just cream covered with dark chocolate occasionally with coconut. According to Wiki they are from Denmark, first made in 1807. Very yummy, but maybe a bit too rich for me, perhaps it’s because I had just eaten though.

Another new Swedish treat I had for the first time this weekend was “Bilar.” These are a very popular classic Swedish candy in the shape of cars. These have been around since 1953 they are known as “the world’s most sold car,” which is certainly true if you are loose with your definition of “car.” This reminds me of a fact I was recently told about White Castle being the first fast food company to sell a billion hamburgers, which makes sense considering how tiny and almost bite sized each burger is. We have been munching on our bilar candy all day, they are basically car shaped marshmallows in white, green, and pink. Quite addictive, I can see why Swedes love them.

I watched the Melodifestivalen last night (Which was terrible for the most part, I am glad I watched it for the first time last week instead of this week) and decided to tweet about it as I watched, while reading all the other tweets being posted at the same time. Amazing how many people were posting about the show, most were in Swedish but a few were in English and I reached out to them, which was pretty neat. It’s the first time I used Twitter as a conversation, it felt a bit obnoxious but was pretty neat to feel in the loop with others doing the same thing.

And so after three days of socializing, and shopping we stayed home today, a lazy Sunday of playing video games and watching a movie. Hubby assembled our new piece of furniture which transformed our kitchen, giving us a lot of extra counter space and more shelving room, living up to it’s name and making us more Bekväm:

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