Mårtensgås

November 11 (or evening of the 10th) southern Sweden celebrates the goose harvest with a feast.

The kids had the day off from school so we decided to celebrate in memory of my Swedish/Danish Grandpa Augeson, who loved roasted goose, potatoes and vinegar cream cabbage.

The most interesting part of the story, and the reason for the “gås” of Sankt Mårten, is that the geese are slaughtered for their betrayal -exposing Martin’s hiding place in the goose pen with their crazy cackling! Martin was trying to avoid being made the new bishop because he preferred a solitary, monastic life, but the miracles he was rumored to have performed made him in demand. And the geese pay the price for his unwise choice of hiding place! The feast also marks the start of a 40 day pre-Christmas fast, which later became Advent. This is when people begin decorating for the Holidays. Lund will have 3 large trees like this one in the aptly named Mårtenstorget.

Several of Bryant’s coworkers said that this year is the first time they’ve ever cooked a goose; due to covid they weren’t able to go out for the traditional dinner at a restaurant.

We also made the traditional Apple Charlotte, which is a European version of crisp, using bread as the crust. It had a pound of butter and is served with whipped cream. The little jar and the Pyrex measuring cup are both filled with fat rendered from the goose. The recipe says I now have enough to last through winter. Bryant says this dinner might cause gout!

Fiskbilen

The Fish Car from Malmö was on our block yesterday. A kind neighbor sent Michael to check in with the Americans to see if we had experienced this Swedish custom. Mike has a cousin in Canada and he is very enthusiastic about fish. He showed me recipes and made many suggestions of how to prepare his products. I said I’d take one each of his top recommendations, and he brought in a huge stack of boxes to show me. So we looked at salmon, char, torsk, loks, shrimp and more. He explained that it’s top quality sashimi grade fish that you can (and should) eat raw.

And I got overwhelmed and socially uncomfortable with this gregarious guy in my kitchen. I didn’t realize I was purchasing the whole box of each item! Plus I don’t understand the prices of things yet. By the time he presented my bill it seemed too late to admit my lack of understanding. And that’s how we ended up with a year’s supply of seafood in our freezer!

We have 4 freezer drawers packed full. We are going to make our own sushi for the first time. And some of Michael’s recipes. He won me over with his insistence on using real butter.

The photo isn’t Mike- just a picture off their website. And the 4365.00 is in kronor so not quite as much money as it looks. That’s all I can say in my defense! I got a lot of laughs at international citizens hub when I told this story. It is a very popular thing, the Fish Car. Everyone said there is normally a long line whenever they show up in the neighborhood, about once every three months. Lucky I didn’t miss it!

Decaf- pffft

Bryant tried to order decaf coffee and the waiter scoffed at him.

Eating dinner at gamlastad- old city Malmö. Such a beautiful evening. Not crowded. Had a train car to ourselves. Perfect way to avoid being in the background of Lily’s TCTC virtual classroom!

So Swedish

So, this was the hot lunch at work the other day:

A fish fillet, curried potatoes, peas, and a sour cream/creme fresh/dill sauce that Jen makes all the time. What I thought was interesting is that the dill sauce was really salty. I think you have been making it wrong @jennifer! ;-). Kidding – I didn’t like it that salty – it was a bit too much.

Donuts

Yeah, so I am not really proud of this, but I had donuts for breakfast this morning. I went to poor the milk for my coffee and it came out in lumps. Needed milk (what I get for going into the office to enjoy the free coffee there). At the store, there was your basic bakery cabinet with some donuts. I was weak. Donuts came home with me.

So, managed expectations for grocery store donuts aside, the sugar raised one was actually quite good. Very light and airy. The chocolate one … there is a weird taste to lots of Swedish chocolate to me (at least much of what I have had). I don’t think it is bad, just weird. So, I did not enjoy the chocolate one as much. I have not seen anything like a fancy donut place here, like a Bogarts.

Dumplings!

You know when somebody tells you about a “hole in the wall” place? Well, check this out! This is Fengssons (yes, a fun Swed-ification of a Chinese name). And it is down that cellar entrance.

Inside is a tiny little Chinese dumpling joint:

And, OMFG, those dumplings were good! Not just “good for Sweden” (which is how I have to qualify lots of food here), but legit good. Yum!

Day 34 – Easter Sunday – Påsk

Today is Easter Sunday, and there’s not much going on. I did find out about a thing that I thought was interesting – Easter Witches or påskkärringar. There’s a nice Radio Sweden bit on them here.

Around Easter, Good Friday and Easter Monday are both national holidays, so this is a 4 day weekend. Woohoo! Some colleagues noticed that I am flying solo in a hotel room, and decided to invite me over.

So, Friday, I had dinner with a lovely family that are from Britain, but have lived in Sweden since 1999. So, they speak English like Brits, but good Swedish. They have 3 kids around my kids ages, which is great. Had a great evening with them and even got a lift home. They live in Bjärred, so easy visiting distance. And their eldest kid attends Katedralskolan in Lund.

Then on Saturday, another colleague really got me for the whole day. They picked me up from the hotel, and took me to a nature refuge where we went for a really nice hike in some classic northern forests – Järavallen. After that, we went to their house in Ödåkra and had a lovely afternoon just hanging out and talking over fika, then dinner, then desert. I was very full when I went home!

I am starting to meet people, and even had a Swedish family invite me over for the day!

Day 14 – Tisdag

So, yeah, I forgot to blog yesterday. The problem with remote working is that you work a lot more. Day 14, of course, means that I’ve been in country for 2 weeks. This is Day 7 of working, however. Tomorrow is payday. I get paid once a month, around the 25th, so that there’s time for the money to land before you pay all your monthly bills at the beginning of the next month. Actually, pretty smart. I have direct deposit all set up to my Swedish bank account, where I will be paid in Kronor, and taxed like a Swede (almost). Between my UT card and my personnummer, I’m a fully legit Schengen EU resident. Weird.

Anyway, I went and looked at a house today. Quite a nice place. A little far from town, and a little pricey, but oodles of room for guests. Very modern and a super-nice family that was renting it out. I will go look at the other one on Friday (I think). Hopefully can pick something soon.

Also, for the record, when there’s a package of cheese in Sweden that is labeled “Texmex” don’t believe it. Unless by “Texmex” you mean a mixture of Gouda, Jarlsberg, and other Nordic-y cheeses. Bless their hearts, they have no freakin’ clue.

Day 11 – Lördag

Nice clear, sunny Saturday today. So I decided to take a little trip out to Lomma. Lomma is a little seaside town about 10 km (6 miles) from Lund. I was going to bike it, and then decided I was lazy, so I took the bus.

But first I had to get to the bus stop, and that took me past Broder Jakob. Oh, darn.

The 139 shuttles between Lund Central and Lomma Central, with some local stops along the way. Total ride was about 15 min on the same Skånetrafiken app-based ticket that I use for the train. The bus was actually quite nice! Dropped me of in the center of Lomma, which is by the Library and the marina.

A short walk takes you past the marina and all the little shops that face it to the beach. Yup – “beach”. White sand that is shallow out for 100s of feet. Cool little breakwater and other stuff. I walked the whole beach north half way to Bjärred, and back. There’s a great little trail that runs along the whole south coast of Sweden, and this is a segment of it. You can also see Malmö from the beach pretty clearly, as well as the Öresund bridge that connects to Denmark. Here’s a small selection of pics.

Yes, I did stick my hand in the water. It was not as cold as I thought it would be, and also was not salty. Like, almost at all. Weird.

After checking out out the beach and watching a small regatta get set up, I got some coffee at this cafe and sat in the sun. Right where the arrow says so. Which was amaze-balls. Just saying. Also, you can sail up to the back of the library. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Bus back to Lund. At the hotel basically by noon, and I tipped over 16k steps. By noon. Now I’m going to sit on my butt and do some work.