Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey Day in Stockholm

In my quest for a turkey in Stockholm for Thanksgiving, I decided to post the question of where to find one on the discussion board of an online English newspaper here called The Local. Here are a few of the answers I got: 

              -Most large supermarkets have frozen turkeys of around 6-10lb size. Ingelsta Kalkon will definitely have one, although they can be a little pricey. And our ever-so-reliable-in-being-over-priced local butchers, Taylor & Jones will also gladly take your hard-earned cash for mediocre goods
              -Have you actually looked in a supermarket? They pretty much ALL have frozen turkeys at the moment... Willy's are selling for whole frozen turkeys for 49.90:- per kg which is not bad...
              -you may have well posted " where do i buy potatoes" such is your lazyness. if you cant do the simple things then you do not stand a chance in hell of actually cooking the thing. stick to tin food. (This one was my favorite, from someone who calls himself "Mirrorman")

Based on these responses, I find it interesting that neither of the 2 major grocery stores - Hemköp nor ICA Kvantum - located near my apartment sold any turkey whatsoever. Not an ounze. 

On Saturday morning, I visited Ingelsta Kalkon in Östermalms where I found not only various sizes and parts of fresh turkeys for sale, but also Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, Kraft Stove Top Stuffing Mix, and Libby's canned pumpkin puree (for about $13/can - fortunately, I already had fresh pumpkin!). I settled on 2 turkey breasts (a whole turkey for 4 people seemed a bit excessive), and headed home to prepare my first self-made Thanksgiving feast. 

The menu was:

rosemaryturkeybreastssweetpotatocasserolegreenbeansstuffingcranberrysaucebutternutsquashcornbreadgravymashedpotatoes AND pumpkinpie for dessert


I have to say, it was pretty delicious

So take THAT, Mirrorman

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving at Max

I spent 2 hours at the grocery store this morning, searching for the various ingredients required for my Thanksgiving feast this Saturday. Pre-made pie crust? -No, sorry. Everyone makes it from scratch here I guess. Butternut squash? -None left, but come back this afternoon, we're getting a new shipment. Pumpkin puree? -Never heard of it, but here's a slice of saran-wrapped pumpkin. Any turkeys? -No, they're not in season. So when are turkeys in season, I wonder.

I must have spoken at least once to every employee working in ICA today, who were probably greater in number than the customers (it seems Thursday mornings are a popular time for restocking everything in the store).

Eventually I left having found all I needed to make butternut squash casserole, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce. But I still don't have a turkey. Details, details....

And so it came to be that after spending a few hours in the kitchen, I ended my Thanksgiving day at Max, Sweden's oh-so-delicious (and oldest) burger chain. It may not have been a typcial Thanskgiving dinner, but it was, as the Swedes say, Mums! (MMMMmmmmmmm)

Happy Thanksgiving Allihopa!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A1 - Check!

Folkuniversitetet. It's a tough word to spell - try saying it. I can't seem to get it right. Like seemingly most Swedish words, the pronunciation is a killer. But for the last month, I've spent 2 1/2 hours a day, 5 days a week there, on the 3rd floor of this beautiful building. It's located on Kungstensgatan in central Stockholm, just across from Observatorielunden. And as of last Friday, after 60 hours spent in the classroom, I have graduated from my first Swedish A1 course.

If you don't take into account the fact that my teacher was present less than half the time, making every day a guessing game of who would actually show up (there were 3 in total, each one having a completely different method of running a class), then I would say it was a great experience. I have never appreciated to such an extent just how important teaching methods can be.

Regardless, I learned so much and have built a great foundation for my future Swedish courses, which will start in January. For the time being, however, I plan on teaching myself the 2nd half of my textbook (A2) aaaaaand...

speaking only Swedish with Nik.

We started this little endeavor on Monday. And today is Thursday. In the last 3 nights, we've probably spoken an average of 70% Swedish. Not bad for a first week, eh? However, my vocabulary is still so limited and after a long day at work (that is, Nik's long day at work, not mine - yet), it's difficult to use so much energy in trying to convey the simplest information, like how was your day at work? The answer could take anywhere from 1-20 minutes. So, we've amended this undertaking and have decided to speak på svenska until 9pm, then switch to English. For now at least.

I'm still waiting to have a dream in Swedish, which I think is the true marking of really learning a language, but that could be some time from now. Until then, I'll be working hard to eliminate the recognition of being a foreigner the second I open my mouth. And will carry around mini vocab flashcards in my pocket wherever I go.

Monday, November 1, 2010

SlottFest = Castle Party

Last weekend I was whisked off to a castle in the South of Sweden for SlottFest 2010 thanks to the annual gathering of friends from Västervik, a tiny town on the East coast where my Niklas happens to be from (THANK YOU Joseph for organizing!!).

[slott means castle; fest means party = perfect combination]

The castle is called Örenäs Slott and is situated on Öresund, the body of water separating Denmark and Sweden. There's only about 15 miles between the 2 countries at this point, so you can easily see across to the other side. Örenäs is the youngest castle in Sweden, built in 1918 - not so young by U.S. standards.

Sweden may not seem like such a large country, but it is in fact quite looooong. Stockholm is only about a quarter of the way up, from which it still takes at least 5 hours to get to the Southern-most region. And so Nik and I watched snow-covered fields turn to soggy, wet land on our train ride South before arriving in Lund and then continuing by train to Glumslöv, the nearest village to the slott.

Upon arriving, we checked into our room to find that we had a suite on the top floor with not 1 but 2 full bathrooms. I don't really understand the rationale behind this, but I didn't protest - it was gorgeous, bathroom(s) and all. Scattered throughout the castle were several salons with huge antique sofas and wing-back chairs crowded around ornately decorated fireplaces. I was happy to relax in one of these comfy chairs, where I could pretend to be royalty reigning over the surrounding sugar fields (who knew sugar grew in Sweden?).

At 7pm the night's festivities began with champagne in the basement, a tastefully bare space with brick walls, low ceilings and cozy candlelight. Our party of 70-some then made our way upstairs for a 3-course dinner: skagen pate (skagen is an incredible Swedish dish: a combination of shrimp, dill, sour cream, etc mixed in the perfect ratio, usually served on toast); beef and potatoes with a delicious sauce (details are getting harder to remember at this point in the night); and for dessert, a chocolate mousse with Italian ice (of which I ate an extra serving, because for some odd reason I wasn't full enough already). 

I have never seen Swedes eat together in a large group without singing. Although I've been informed that songs are only for Christmas and Midsummer, the sopranos at this reunion were aplenty. I have no idea what the words meant, but almost every Swede knew each one. Most were accompanied by a toast at the end, and naturally, more toasts led to more singing, and so it went with song, toast, then a speech, toast then another song, toast and so on... toast.... toast

The last move of the night, upward once again, was to the salons for Baileys, coffee, Macmyra whiskey and dancing. The evening progressed as most do, messier with each passing hour, and the last guests were up well past 5am. I'm told there were only a dozen or so left by then. I'd given up my efforts to outlast the crowd and surrendered to sleep a couple hours earlier to the world's softest bed. The weekend was definitely one to remember, my first - and hopefully not last - night in a real castle.