Tag Archives: culture

Expatriate life in lyrics

Today I’ll provide a link to one of my favorite musical songs. It describes the life of an expat mother, but an expatriate life of past times and of much hardship. Expatriating today can be tough too, but hopefully not on all the levels Kristina experiences.

Listen to Kristina

From the musical “Kristina from Duvemåla” by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulveus (the Bs in ABBA).

Read (all about it)!

World Book Day again? Confusing? Well;

April 23 is World Book Day. It’s a UNESCO event to help promoting reading (and also publishing and copyright; therefore also called World Book and Copyright Day).

World Book Day is a global event, however in the UK and Ireland World Book Day is celebrated on March 7.

On the other hand, April 23 is World Book Night in the UK, Ireland and the US.

In Sweden we call it Världsbokdagen.

Now that we’ve got that sorted;

Do we need to promote reading? I think so. There are many distractions today, especially for kids; activities that per se might not be that bad but steal time away from disappearing into the magic world of the written word. Many of us find reading to be enriching, educating and relaxing. Being swept away, and array of emotions from fear and tension to joy and laughing out loud is what I remember from books when I grew up. It doesn’t happen as often today, but I have to admit I cried my heart out as I tried to read Astrid Lindgren’s “Brothers Lionheart” to my daughter.

Books are food for soul and mind.

Yet I find myself spending less time on reading fiction these days. There are always books scattered around my house though (mostly on the floor, even though I preach to my children never to put books in such vulnerable positions); books waiting for the next few minutes of attention that can be found during the week. These books are either related to my business or to writing, gardening or craft and art. We have a fantastic local library providing almost whatever I wish for to temporarily add to my own selection of books. I always have at least one fictional read waiting on the nightstand though (ok; on the floor). Tomorrow I’ll present a list of the books I’m currently reading/enjoying. I’m writing enjoying since not all books need to be “read” (hints: photo books, art journaling). Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration!

In honor of World Book Day and reading I have compiled a few quotes about books and reading. Which one is your favorite? Feel free to add quotes in the comments.

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#Worldcolors April

I’m on a mission to find yellow. Both here in Sweden and in my extensive collection of photos from my expat time and travels.

This month’s #worldcolors is all about the sunny, golden yellowish nuances. Suits well with the arrival of spring and longer sun hours. Daffodils however – don’t think they will actually be here in April due to the long winter and late arrival of spring.

I read about the “assignment” yesterday morning in Naomi’s blog (via twitter). My brain and eyes tuned in on yellow and focused on everything of that color I saw during the day – actually a bit annoying; either it wasn’t worth taking a picture of or it was something I drove by and couldn’t capture anyway.

If you would like to read more, see interesting photos from all over the world and perhaps participate you find the details over at Anne’s at part time traveler.

BTW. Yellow is gul in Swedish. Want to know how it is pronounced?

 

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Do you understand the news in Swedish?

Listening to the radio you probably can’t avoid the news. The news are usually read in a fast pace, and what I find after having returned to Sweden, contain a lot of slang words that didn’t use to belong there. Only the other day I heard them use the Swenglish word “hosta” as in “to host” talking about a major sports event on the news.

If you are learning Swedish you might want to try to listen to Klartext. Klartext is a news program by the Swedish Radio channel P4. The news is easier to follow than regular news since the pace is slower and the words used are easier to understand.

You can either listen to the radio (18-18.10 on weekdays), via the web page, as a podcast or via an app on your phone. The app is called SR Play. Listening to Klartext is a good way of practicing your understanding of spoken Swedish, perhaps in addition to your Swedish classes.

You can also read their news on the website.

Visit Klartext’s website to practice your Swedish! You will find links to the news, the app and pod casts here, as well as the written news.

For English info on Klartext go here.

Please leave a comment – have you tried it? Did you find it difficult?

Why I love my coffee cold.

This time of the year us Swedes grab our mugs,

sit outside on a bench,

wrapped in blankets,

faces turned to the sun like sunflowers,

enjoying the first warm rays of light.

We are all probably side by side in a row,

pressed against a house wall sheltering us from the wind.

The coffee is long cold.

It doesn’t matter,

as long as we can take our fika outside we are happy!

Soon the grill will be out too.

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Fika the Swedish way

Fika is the Swedish soul.

Fika is coffee/tea/juice/whatever-except-alcohol.

Fika is our daily excuse to savor cinnamon rolls/pastry/cake/cookies.

Fika is a daily routine at our work places. Twice a day actually.

Fika is when Swedes are not taciturn.

Fika is #fika on twitter.

Fika is at home. At the office, at a café.

Fika is at the playground, in a park and in our gardens.

Fika is for business and pleasure.

Fika can be just a cuppa.

Fika is always right.

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Expat hand-me-downs

Living a life where you meet people from different cultures and parts of the world equals living a life of constant discovery and learning. You taste new food, learn about other views of life and take part in  fascinating traditions. I have written about Cinco de Mayo and Cheese fondue, of Fredagsmys and Midsummer. I have also pointed out, to myself, that a lot of traditions are food related :). I love trying new dishes, and gladly collect recipes from friends called Martha, google and … well, closer friends too.

Naomi has also been thinking about food secrets and hand-me-downs. If you’re an expat you know that it’s not only easily stored artifacts like recipes that is left behind when nomadic people set off on their next adventure. You can read about Naomi’s thoughts here and learn what some people have shared on their expatriate journeys.

Do you have any treasured expat hand-me-downs? Did you leave something behind?

 

the Chubby Fat Tuesday Bun – semlor recipe

Today is Fettisdagen. Let me decode that into National Day of the Semla. Now it´s all clear, right?

Semla is a sweet chubby wheat bun, cardamom laden, filled with golden almond paste and whipped cream. Originally semla was only eaten on Shrove Tuesday, as a last blissful treat before Lent. Today we know better and eat semlor (we need to go into plural here) all winter long. Fettisdagen has gone from being the only day to enjoy our precious pastry to the day you must enjoy at least one of them. Because as you all know we have fika (coffee break) at work. That means you are likely to down your first semla already by ten in the morning.

Semlor can be bought in every bakery, grocery store or gas station in Sweden. Sometimes you make your own, and as a Swedish expat you simply have to make your own (unless your expatriate adventure has taken you to the Nordic or Baltic countries) if you want to join the club.

If you make it past the photos below, find out how I make my Swedish fika treats; semlor recipe to follow.

stages of baking a semla

 

This year I found ready made buns (albeit a bit flat) in the store, made just for semlor. Link if you don´t. 🙂

  • Cut off the tops, scoop out the center of 8 buns, and put it in a food processor.
  • Add 125g of almonds and 1 dl confectioners’ sugar and GO!
  • Pour 1 dl heated milk into the mixture making it that special heavenly paste.
  • Fill up the holes abundantly with the almond indulgence and top up with whipped cream.
  • Put the lid back on and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Voilà!

If you use Us cups, add some almonds and use half of a cup of confectioners’ sugar and milk.

Happy baking!

A real cheesy dish if you ask me.

Cheese fondue was something my parents made in the 70s. I assume. At least there was an old artifact from the era in one of the kitchen cabinets – a fondue pot. I hadn’t tried the dish many times – it was more or less extinct in Sweden and had been replaced by more modern dishes. But here we were; New Year’s Eve in Switzerland and we had decided to abandon our tradition of fireworks and fresh seafood in the middle of the night and honor our newest home country by proudly making our own cheese fondue. We consulted our classic Swedish cookbook; and yes there was a recipe and yes it seemed doable. So we went ahead. Maybe that´s where we went wrong. A Swedish cookbook. I mean, this wasn’t exactly in the age before Internet and Google but … you know; sometimes you just don´t think twice. Or maybe we did and just decided not to involve the mysterious Swiss-German in our culinary experiment.

Let´s just say it was a disappointment. Did not rock my boat at all. Happy New Year. And no fireworks either.

Half a year later, in the summer, we had guests from Sweden. We drove to the picturesque little town of Vevey by Lake Geneva and spent a few days. For lunch we visited a restaurant my family had tried earlier – we knew they had fondue on the menu as well as great entertainment for the kids consisting of empty pizza boxes with crayons and small surprises. We sat down and began to order. Lots of food and as a starter we decided to share a small cheese fondue – our guests had never had it and were eager to try. And we wanted to give it another go. The waiter said “Non.” We insisted and found ourselves dragged into a discussion, or rather argument, of why and why not we could have the fondue. Our arguments were in the lines of

  • It´s on the menu
  • We would like to have it
  • We would like to sample a local dish
  • Our guests are here from Sweden for 10 days only– not coming back in the winter!
  • Other guests at the restaurant are having it

The waiter´s argument was simply “you don´t eat cheese fondue in the summer. It is too hot.” Period.

Well, he finally took our orders – including the fondue – and we set out to enjoy a tasty meal in the glorious summer weather. Blue sky, an abundance of flowers, steam wheelers on the lake – you get the picture.  Vevey is truly a beautiful place to visit.

The kids’ dishes arrived, and a little bit later so did ours – with one exception; the fondue. This was clearly not a case of customers know best, or even of us being customers.  The waiter had taken upon himself to save us from the, in his eyes, horrible mistake of having cheese fondue in summer.

During our years to follow in the Zurich area we had fondue – both cheese, fish and meat – several times, both in our home and at restaurants. We even tried it again at New Year; this time at a rustic bistro where they served a special champagne fondue menu. But it wasn’t until our last year in Switzerland that we got to enjoy the true soul of cheese fondue. Along with a few other expat families we were invited to dear Swiss-Swedish friends, permanently residing in Switzerland on a farm. Together we prepared the fondue and the rest of the meal in a separate area on the farm dedicated to festivities. It was a furnished barn with large wooden tables and benches, a small kitchen and even a bathroom. Perfect for parties, even more perfect for cheese fondue parties. Because one thing we have learnt; it smells. And as good as it smells when you eat it, it is not very appealing the next day.

Here is the recipe we use nowadays when we prepare cheese fondue.  It´s a plain simple recipe, yet the best – we skip the Kirsch. It was passed on to us from very good expatriate friends in Switzerland. Cheese fondue has very much enjoyed a renaissance in our home; even more since moving from Switzerland. We all know this phenomenon.

Makes 4 yummy servings:

3 dl dry white wine – chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc works well; save some for the glass too!

3 tsp cornstarch

1-2 garlic cloves

800 g of shredded Swiss cheese (try a blend of Gruyère, Emmentaler and Appenzeller, or just two of them.)

It´s nice to use a fondue pot or a ceramic pot if you have one. I have to confess for a quick meal I just use normal cooking ware; heat the fondue on the stove and transfer the whole pan to the table. Easy! It´s gone in an instant so no need to worry about the fondue cooling off … We call it fast food in our family. And TCK food. A table top burner is useful if you want to sit longer.

Rub the inside of the pot with the garlic. Carefully heat wine and starch (you might want to dissolve it in some wine first). Add the rest of the garlic; crushed. Stir in the cheese and let it melt while continuing to stir carefully. Black pepper it with love!

Serve by dipping diced day old peasant bread in the fondue. There are special fondue sticks but you can use forks too. The gourmet who drops a piece of bread in the fondue gets to clean the pot afterwards. That´s the worst part.

En Guete!