I can’t believe it went by so quickly. I wish my friends could’ve been here to partake in shopping, walking and food! However, since none of my BFFs were here, I thought I’d spam you all with things from Sweden that I loved and things that made me giggle.
First and foremost, I’m going to make you read before you can see pictures. 😉 Yea, I’m sneaky like that. I bolded the important stuff for the TL;DR crowd but if it’s still too much, just skip down to the pictures, mmkay?
What I’ve discovered about Sweden…
1. It’s expensive. I know I’ve bitched about it before, but it’s expensive. We had lunch with a friend on Sunday and…EEEEEK! Anyway, even though it’s expensive here, I’ve been told it’s even worse in Denmark and Finland. However, the cost of housing (outside of Stockholm) is frighteningly sane.
2. Systembolaget is my friend…when I can figure out their obscure hours.
What is System Bolaget? A centralized place for Swedes to buy their alcohol. What? WHY?! Taken from the www.systembolaget.se site:
“Systembolaget exists for one reason: To minimize alcohol-related problems by selling alcohol in a responsible way, without profit motive.
The first alcohol monopoly ever started in the mid 1800s in Sweden. It worked so well that the model was spread all over the country. In 1955, the local companies were merged to form a single, national Systembolaget company, a concept which still works.
Systembolaget has a nationwide retail network of 417 stores and over 500 agents serving smaller communities. The agents do not carry items in stock, but the entire product range can be ordered through them.
Our staff are experts in food and drink and provide high standards of services for their customers. The work in the stores is brand-neutral. This means promotion of individual products or producers is avoided, which allows the advice to be provided entirely on the customer’s terms.
Systembolaget’s product range is actually one of the most comprehensive in the world. It is being developed continuously to match changes in trends and in the consumers’ tastes.”
Who would’ve thought the government would regulate alcohol to curb the alcoholics? Kinda cool…but not when you need a bottle of red wine on a Sunday to make bolognese.
3. Take a number. Take a number whenever you enter any store…and wait until that number is called. I’ve only been used to doing that in bakeries back in the US.
4. Just because a bulk of the population can speak English, it doesn’t mean they’re comfortable doing so. It’s why I did my best to listen to Swedes and learn some Swedish.
5. I love Italian food here in Sweden. I love their thin crust pizzas. I dislike super heavy dough-y crusts (unless I’m in the mood for it) and for some reason, every pizza I’ve had here is completely a thin crust. Their sauces for their pastas have some kick. I like it. No, I love it!
6. This is meat and potatoes territory. With a very liberal dash of béarnaise sauce on the top and on the side of almost anything you order. I don’t understand the obsession they have with it. I really don’t.
7. No one smiles. If you do, they think you’re crazy. Or American. Or Finnish. Or Australian. Or drunk and giddy from your purchases when SystemBolaget was open. I’m not kidding about that.
8. They have paternity leave. Wait…whuuut? Yes, my friends. Paternity leave. Maternity leave. It’s all pretty awesome. Both parents are given X amount of days for paternity/maternity leave that can be taken up until the child is 7 years old, if I recall correctly. However, it may be 6, but I’m too lazy to google because it’s almost 1am and I want to sleep soon. I love seeing men pushing strollers here. It’s a very egalitarian society. That’s a good thing.
9. Swedes are very private. Now when I say private, I don’t mean it in the sense that they will go all batshit cray cray on you if you knock on their door. I’ve discovered a world of silent living in our apartment because we have *gasp* considerate neighbors. While some people may consider the Swedes rude, I think it’s because they respect your privacy and out of deference to you (as well as themselves) they don’t make a lot of noise or fuss. I have noticed that on the Metro not a lot of conversations go on unless it’s a Friday or Saturday night and people have had a bit too much to drink.
10. Variety in food. Seriously…it’s a great variety. I got a teensy bit homesick. While Colin and I were near the DICE offices, I saw a little store across the street – Kabayan sari sari store. Colin took a great pic of it, but I have to upload it. (Too lazy at the moment, sorry!) In that store I found Filipino comfort food and Filipinos who were friendly! Imagine that. No judgment whatsoever. It was refreshing. If you don’t want Filipino food, there is always the obvious Swedish food…as well as Italian, kebabs, Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, etc. The list goes on.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. Now you get to see pictures with my notes. As always, click for the full-sized version of the pictures.
The couch of discomfort. It looks nice and inviting, but don’t be fooled. This has to be the world’s most uncomfortable couch. I found sitting on the floor was much better for me.
My greatest enemy in my time here. This apartment is less than 700 square feet, but who would’ve guessed it would take me over an hour to vacuum thanks to this BEAST that couldn’t suck anything off the carpeting in the bedroom? I dreaded the weekly vacuuming. I was tempted to throw this away and buy the apartment a PROPER vacuum.
I didn’t know it was possible to have a crush on an inanimate object, but I do. Like seriously crushin’ over this thing. It’s a standing dryer that totally rocks it for our bedsheets and comforter covers. I have a pair of Colin’s swanky jeans drying in there. This thing is also a foot taller than me.
It translates into English Fruit Cake. However, I think the Fruktkaka is better because Fruit Cake is, well, caca.
My lasagana. Mmm…
Colin’s pasta arrabiata. This bad ass baby has some serious kick. It was a huge portion and we easily could’ve split it. My lasagna and his pasta was at a place called
Huvudkontor, Långholmsgatan 5 B
117 33 Stockholm, Telefon: 08 – 668 34 02
To this day, I still shake my head over this. Can you blame me? The giggle-worthy phrase of “Discreet Male Protection”. I know my friend Magnuss explained it to me, but I can still laugh to myself, right?
Remember how I said I didn’t understand the Swedes obsession with béarnaise sauce? Imagine seeing a section of the refrigerated aisle dedicated to it. The other sauce merely jumped into the picture to break the monotony of béarnaise.
Late lunch with Colin at a place called Oliver Twist around the corner from his office. This is his bucket of mussels…with a jalapeno gravy. Nice and spicy.
The name says it all.
Now before your dirty minds go there, kok in Swedish means boil. This is a bag of potatoes that you boil. Spoiled your fun, didn’t I? However, I still giggle when I say this is a bag of kok.
This is my Metro stop. The sign reads Rådmansgatan, but it’s pronounced “roadmossgotten” while you roll the R. Colin took a way better picture of the sign than I did.
This past Sunday we went to lunch with a fellow American who is also here in Sweden for work…it was a typical 2 hour lunch! We went to a place called the Grand Hôtel – very swanky! We dined in their restaurant called The Verandan. We couldn’t access the smörgåsbord because it’s not done on Sunday, so we had to ‘settle’ for their à la carte menu. Fine with me.
My appetizer: mushroom consommé with fried monkfish cheek and a veal tart.
My main Course: beef with yellow and green beans with a bacon gravy
My dessert: bread and cheese plate.
Colin’s appetizer: assorted pickled herring, cheese and potatoes. I loved his potatoes.
Colin’s main course: Biff Rydberg. Yes, I ate 90% of his potatoes.
Colin’s dessert: apple pie. Yes, I ate most of that, too.
Our friend Jaap’s appetizer was reindeer tartar, but the picture I took was so unfortunate I decided to not share it.
Jaap’s main course: reindeer cutlets. I didn’t get a picture of his potatoes. His dessert was apple pie – the same as Colin’s.
I think they needed a better translation. Doesn’t it disturb you in the slightest? Or does it make you giggle because you have a dirty mind?
I didn’t know what to make of it, but the phrase, “Pimp hand strong” came to mind when I first saw this picture.
Finally…I leave you with a racist snack. Kina snacks. Kina in Swedish means China. So…China snacks, replete with rice bowl haircut, rice field hat and slanty-eyed asian on the cover…with a yellow background to get that perfect shade of Ornamental yella. Of course I ate it. Ever had this breakfast cereal called Sugar Smacks (which became Honey Smacks and then reverted back to Sugar Smacks) while growing up? Well, this is exactly like it but covered in chocolate. I’m actually not offended by the snack, but I thought I’d share it because my friends and I have this thing about racist snacks – Nips come to mind for those in the USA.
All right…picture spam time over and done. It’s way past my bedtime – almost 2:30am. EEKS! Nighty night.